Sunday, April 15, 2018

My mom thinks she should keep a secret

By Monica Vest Wheeler

My mom thinks she should keep a secret. 

However, I have a big mouth and feel the need to share.

Sorry, it’s the storyteller in me, and it’s just too big of a life story to ignore.   

So, she’ll just have to deal with it.

Can you see me thumbing my nose at her right now? Good.

The secret is not that she’s strong.

She’s always exhibited a deep sense of inner and outer strength and a self-sufficient attitude.

Now, that comes in handy when you’re trying to open a jar, take a test or finish a job. It can be vitally important when you need to show yourself that you’re stronger, smarter and braver than you would ever give yourself credit.

We can be strong, but sometimes we can break when we don’t give ourselves a break. I’ve worried about so many things that threatened to fracture her through the years.

The secret is not that she’s stubborn, which kinda ties in with strength.

I hereby declare that she’s the QUEEN of stubborn. Now, that can be good and bad. Sometimes we need to be just stubborn enough to force ourselves through ordinary and extraordinary hurdles and challenges.

If you’re living and breathing, you’re gonna and you gotta face obstacles in this world. It’s all about that learning curve that often resembles a figure eight … that I know she’s navigated so many times, and sometimes purely on instinct and fierce determination.

But it’s a royal pain to ME when you’re trying to convince her to let you help her in a variety of ways, whether it’s physically, emotionally or financially. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all the times she’s said, “I can do it myself.” I never doubted she could, but it would have made many moments easier for ME if she had accepted my offers.

At least, that’s MY opinion ….

I’ve discovered much about stubbornness in my own desire to keep going despite an often crippling depression. Yes, stubbornness keeps me alive when I decided today wasn’t all that bad and tomorrow can be better, and more often than not, it does not disappoint.

And Mom has never made it a secret that tomorrow really is worth getting up for. As always, she’s right.

Geez. Mothers.

The secret is not that she’s often a loner and prefers to mimic Greta Garbo’s “I vant to be alone.” She’s lived by herself for the 36-plus years since she and Dad divorced. She values her space and privacy. I completely understand.

I likely inherited my introverted personality from her. I was an only child who really liked to be alone. In the solitude of my single digits and teens, I spent countless hours sucking ink pens dry by filling reams of traditional school-lined paper with all the stories that I obsessively had to write.

I don’t recall ever reaching the center of a Tootsie Pop sucker, but I reached the last drop of ink and said good-bye to many a trusty blue, black or red pen. That was long before purple ink made it to the mainstream office supply market place.

And that reminds me that it’s never been a secret that she’s always been somewhat frugal.

She has turned pennies into dimes and quarters into dollars. She cheaps out on the unimportant stuff but doesn’t on what she considers important. Her shelves are lined with off-brand essentials except the good stuff she treats herself to like facial creams, shampoos, laundry detergent and dish soap. It’s always been Dawn in her kitchen and Oil of Olay in her bathroom.

And she gave up a lot of personal stuff and luxuries to make sure I went to college. My parents paid my way so I would have not any student debt to start my life.

I paid attention because I went through college in three instead of four years to save them thousands of dollars. And that was back when private college was only about $4,000 annually.

The secret is not that she’s smart.

That woman was the first in her family to earn a high school diploma. If circumstances had been different, I’m positive she would have gone on to college and been some leader in the education, science or medical fields.

Why? Because she questions virtually everything. She has to know the how and why something works and what will happen if you do or don’t do this or that. I’m confident I got my reporter instinct from her, a trait that has opened the door to a world that often scared/scares me. I “hide” behind my pen and paper, keyboard or camera to infiltrate the “real” world where all the magic happens.

The secret is not that she’s made some mistakes.

Yes, we all make boo-boos along the way, some of which sparked some boo-hoos on difficult days. None of us are perfect, and hindsight — which can only be delivered in the aftermath — can reveal an unfiltered and illuminating view ….

And taught me to look in the mirror often to make sure I do my best to apologize and humble myself when I need to, and forgive and forget the world in hefty doses.

The secret is not that’s she has a sense of humor.

I got my desire to laugh from her. I got my often-quirky behavior from her. My son can vouch that I got the habit of singing to wake him up on many a school morning from his nutty Grandma-ma. Hey, it made me less grouchy when I was a kid, so why not experiment on my own?

And laughter saved many a day when tears might have been easier, though less productive. Laughter makes you think more than weepy eyes. And it burns far more calories.

What else is not a secret in my mom’s world? Hmm, that list can go on for quite some time, and I need more sleep ….

So, now, what is her secret that I’m spilling?

She’s waving the white flag to cancer … on her terms.

Geez. Mothers.

And I have to and choose to accept her decision.

Geez. Daughters.

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