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Shoe Personality of the Week: 05/10/10

My mother has had Multiple Sclerosis for the last 21 years of my life. I remember when I was 14, I was at the 2nd of my twice weekly physical therapy appointments, trying to work through what we thought then was just track-related injuries. My therapist informed me that my mother wouldn’t be picking me up after; that I was to go with Mrs. Beverly. Mrs. Beverly picked me up and talked around something about my mother while driving me home where I was to get a couple days worth of clothes for my sister and I. We’d be staying at her house. It was presented like a big sleepover, knowing how much we loved to be with her older daughter. I knew this was no sleepover. It was Thursday and my mother didn’t play that missing school stuff without good reason. The reason hadn’t been revealed yet.

If memory serves me correctly, and it may not, we didn’t talk to Mommy that night. I think we were told that something had happened and she was very tired. The next morning, my sister and I got up and dressed for school as usual. Mrs. Beverly dropped us off and let us know she’d be picking us up as well. After school we were taken to the hospital. My mother lay in a sterile metal bed, covered in the stark white sheets that signals sickness and death, looking a way I’d never seen her before—weak. And I got scared.

I’ve seen my mother tune up a car, change tires, scale fish with a knife that was just shy of being a machete, and move refrigerators BY HERSELF. I’ve seen a man run from her, knowing he’d fucked up and his safety was about to be challenged. That wasn’t the woman I saw laying there. I could barely face her as she tried to comfort my sister (who was a wreck) and I as she explained that she didn’t know yet what was wrong but that we’d know soon and then things would be like they were. I didn’t believe her. Anything that could make the Herculean woman I know look the way she did wasn’t something she/we were going to recover from. I started wondering if my father would be able to take care of us, would we have to move back to Chicago?

My mother committed to finding alternatives to the steroid diet originally prescribed by her doctors and put her illness in remission for several years, except for numbness in her hands and feet. In the last…5-8 years Multiple Sclerosis has made itself a little more prominent in my mother’s life. I’ve watched the motor skills that you and I take for granted become a challenge, sometimes a dangerous one. My once active, constantly on the go mother has been slowed down. Now instead of being fearful, I’m encouraged. I don’t see weakness in my mother’s face or eyes. I see fight. It was a gradual acceptance of a new place in her life, but my mother recognized the blessing in still being alive at all as we’ve seen others close to us lose this battle. She decided to get back up on her horse (or her scooter, such as it is now), and ride through this life with fervor. There are some things that stand in her way, but she finds a way to ride around them to get to her desired goal.

So, why this shoe? My mother, decided last year that she wanted a pair of these shoes. These shoes are the symbol of my mother’s smile. They represent the youthful glow of her skin. They are an arrow pointing to her fun-loving, laughter-filled life. She may walk with a cane and need the assistance of technology to get where she wants to go, but she’s going to get there. And she wants to do it now it Chuck Taylor-esque shoe with graffiti on it. Mother do it ALL. When challenged, they find a way around or through the obstacle. My mother has taught me, among other things, that nothing can hold me back unless I allow it. She’s also shown me that it’s OK to laugh at yourself as you try to clear your hurdles. Falling down can be funny. Not getting back up is the sad part. My mother’s spirit reminds me to always get back up.

Happy Mother’s Day to the best mother I wouldn’t have chosen as a child but who I would never give away as an adult!!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to my grandmother, Doris; my other mother; my aunts & cousins who are now mothers themselves, my community mothers across the country, and any you who read that are mothers!! This day belongs to you.

Watching y’all move.

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