Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mom's Sideline Encouragement

The corner comes more quickly than anticipated, but Mom negotiates it with precision skill. While she "sticks it" with all four wheels owning their share of the pavement, my stomach leaps and threatens to abandon ship before we reach the next intersection. "Still with us?" I shout over my shoulder. Poor Dad clings to life in the rumble seat. Rain drops threaten to ruin this evening's fun. But Dad assures us that he won't melt, and we should stick to the plan.

So Mom continues darting from one side of the road to the other, responding to familiar voices or the glow of porch lights. We slow up for answers to the question of the night, "When are you heading out?" And stop for an occasional good-bye hug. We even work in an introduction or two that goes something like this: "This is our daughter. She's famous." (jk!) 

Our ride on the golf cart that Monday evening reminded me how much my mom loves being around people. This small community of retirees suits her well. And for that long weekend, it suited me too. We shared tears, laughed a lot, soaked in the sun, and celebrated Easter. We played Phase Ten with friends, ate ourselves silly, and watched movies. Not only does Mom love being around people, she loves being around me. 

And for that long weekend, I set aside my busyness, welcomed our time together and remembered how much fun she brought to my growing up years. How many moms situate themselves behind the plate (literally, a paper plate home base substitute) to receive their daughter's oncoming pitch? A daughter whose arm caught the eye of a college team recruiter and whose slow pitch suddenly needed to transform into fast pitch for the state softball tournament? My mom did! She shagged grounders, tossed me balls so that I could learn to square myself for a bunt, and attended nearly every game I ever played. The whole team counted on her sideline encouragement. 

One of her famous battle cries, "Stanley, get the lead out!" often pushed me from first to second, stretching me to leave everything on the field — even skin from hitting the dirt in a not-so-graceful-but-successful slide. Mom always believed I possessed something extraordinary that knew no physical limitations. Whenever I would rebound with "I can't run fast like the other kids." She'd say, "You're not like the other kids. You're my kid." Essentially, she wasn't content to let me settle for less than I could do. She knew better. While I sometimes wanted to yell back, "Stop pushing me!" guess who sported the most RBIs at the end of the season? 

I can't imagine how different my life would be without my mom. I don't want to. When I'm haunted by silent sidelines, and I need reassurance that I have within me what I need to accomplish the scary thing in front of me, I call Mom. Not because she uses the most eloquent and
wonderful words. She doesn't have to. But because she believes in the God-thing in me, even when she may not understand it. Knowing she's with me lightens my load. Hearing her stories and her familiar laugh, lightens my heart. 

Sometimes Mom's encouragement comes in shouts from the sidelines. Sometimes it comes in the laughter of a wild ride in the rain. But it comes . . . it always comes. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I wouldn't be who I am without you. Every life I touch, you touch too. Remember that.