A Mother’s Day Lesson

My mom just turned 84.

Beginning when I was a very little girl, I remember my mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day being very close together. I remember picking out birthday gifts… and already thinking ahead to that first Sunday in May, often going with a gift theme. Like a summer ensemble or travel items or an outdoor activity choice.

My mom was always an in-the-know fashionista. (Yes, Audrey inherited this gene!) And my mom was the picture of health. She exercised when no-one else did… well, except for Jack LaLanne. She hula-hooped and did cart wheels and jump-roped and bicycled and figured out the benefits of walking way before someone else discovered it. Because of her activities, my mom maintained a beautiful, fit figure and she loved to wear pretty things.

She still loves to wear pretty things. But because of arthritis and spinal stenosis, my mom’s physical activity is greatly limited. She has a walker… but she hates to use it.

Yesterday, I got a mom-lesson from my mom. And I realized that we’re never too old to learn from our mothers, especially on Mother’s Day.

The plan was for 15 of us to head to Newport, RI for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Salas. We’ve been going there for decades… and everyone in my family loves the family atmosphere. Then, of course, there’s the food. Pasta like you can’t believe. Seafood from heaven above. Pitchers of beer. A view of Newport’s famous Thames Street at one end and the harbor at the other. Kids can talk (and even cry when one doesn’t get to use his own Parmesan cheese!) and move about and no-one cares.

The only drawback is that Salas is on the second story of a great big building and the climb is about 20 steps. There was a time when my mom could bound up those stairs. Not anymore. And there was a time that we could park in Timbuktu and my mom could walk those centenarian walkways for miles. Not anymore. I also knew that we would be heading to Ben & Jerry’s after our feast… tradition

So I suggested that my mom bring her walker.

My mom said, “No. No. No.”

I said, “Yes. Yes. Yes.” I actually insisted. When I picked her up at her senior apartment complex, I could tell her reluctance at rolling that walker. But, being the careful and dutiful daughter and all, I was happy to see it. I quickly folded up the walker (it is a high-tech one) and put it in the cargo section of my car. We had a wonderful drive to Newport on a gloriously sunny Mother’s Day.

As we were nearing the restaurant, my mom again insisted that she did not need her walker. But this time I listened to her. I heard her. She wasn’t saying that she didn’t need it… she was remembering Mothers’ Day past, when she could walk for miles and bound up those stairs. I knew that these memories were bigger than me and my care and dutifulness.

I almost cried as I looked at the handles of that shiny blue walker laying in the back of my car. It represented the present and future for my mom. And she was remembering her other 58 years of Mothers’ Days. Days when she pushed strollers, ran in the park, threw baseballs, did cartwheels, bicycled and golfed and walked for miles and miles in high heels (yes, I got my spike-heels gene from my mom!)… when stairs and bumpy sidewalks weren’t a daughter’s fear.

I got it. So I helped my mom out of the car while Barry and Jane headed off to Timbuktu with the walker still in the cargo bin. We stood outside in the cool afternoon air. My mom, all 4′ 7″ of her, was tall and strong and happy. Soon, Audrey and Matt and their 4 little guys arrived. My mom beamed as she leaned in for the giant hugs. The boys call her Grandma Rita, which has been abbreviated to “Rita.” She loves this. Then Adam and his family arrived and we all headed up those stairs.

Ah, the stairs. But yesterday I appreciated the stairs. They stood as a symbol of what my mom can do because she wants to. They are important. They are hope. They are beautiful.

When all 15 of us were seated, I helped my mom take off her little fleece jacket (I insisted on fleece!). Underneath was the cutest soft-rose colored blouse with little cap sleeves. She was radiant. She was dazzling. She had the greatest time watching over me, her daughter, and my family.

Then down the stairs… spry, easy-does-it, perfection. And the walk to Ben & Jerry’s for the continued tradition, with 2 new babies this year, Henry and Dylan.

My mom beamed with joy all day. So did I. And I learned my lesson. I learned to give joy and hope, not fear and accountability. Yes, those things are important, but not on Mother’s Day. Not on my mom’s day.

And not on my watch… ever again!

A Mother’s Day Lesson was last modified: February 9th, 2010 by Sharon Couto
SHOWHIDE Comments (8)
  1. What a beautiful story. So glad you guys had a wonderful Mother’s Day…and I loved meeting you!

  2. That was such a beautiful post, Sharon. Having watched my my parents care for my grandparents over the years, I know exactly what you mean. And I’m so glad you and your mom had such a wonderful day full of joy, family, tradition, memories, and hope. It must have been incredibly special to have so many generations celebrating together. And your mom looks fantastic! Happy Mother’s Day to you both. 🙂

  3. Sharon,

    Again, tears.
    God bless you for your big heart. He IS blessing you, with the gift of appreciating your Mom for all that she was, for all that she is, right now, before it’s too late.


  4. Your mom is beautiful–I see where you get it! What a special day to have all of the family together, celebrating, and bounding up those stairs.
    Every time you talk about food, I just want to move out of the Midwest right away. We just don’t have good seafood restaurants here, and I so wish we did!

  5. Rita looks terrific-so happy she managed so well and was able to enjoy Mother’s Day.

  6. Sharon, this is a beautiful post. Your Mother is a beautiful lady and you resemble her both physically and spiritually. Thank you for your kind words yesterday! We had a great Mother’s Day here!

  7. This post brought tears to my eyes. Isn’t it incredible that we can still learn from our moms? I tried to get my mom to take the elevator at the restaurant yesterday and she also insisted on the stairs. I think we both come from good strong stock. I’m so glad you had a wonderful day filled with family, love and tradition.

  8. Sharon, This is just what I needed to read at 4:00 this morning when I couldn’t sleep for thinking of MY mom and the dental surgery she faces this morning. I loved this post. Your mom is beautiful and I admire the spunk and determination in her. I know what you mean about the walker. My mom needs hers all the time now as she goes out. I hate it Sharon that our moms are aging and can’t do the things they used to do. Good for your mom though, walking up those stairs. Your Mother’s Day was fantastic. Love Ben & Jerry’s!

A Mother’s Day Lesson was last modified: February 9th, 2010 by Sharon Couto