Rediscovering Courage

Mother’s Day is usually a day we thank the women who have nurtured us because they have generally sacrificed so much in their lives to make sure we grow into competent, decent human beings.  Well I’m taking this Mother’s Day to celebrate my mom doing something for herself . . . reclaiming the courage deep inside of her.

My mom moved back to Michigan last week.  We packed her U-Haul trailer on Sunday and she took off along Interstate 80.  She passed through eight states, and logged over 2,300 miles on her little car.  Over mountains, and through the vast plains of the Midwest, she drove; stopping only to refuel (both car and person), partake of the “facilities,” or sleep for the night.  What’s more, she did this all by herself, at the age of 65.

She didn’t want to make this monstrous journey–and in fact, was an emotional wreck for the week leading up to the trip–but her parents (my grandparents) are getting on in years, and it seemed that she was the best option amongst her siblings to live near them, in case any emergencies arose.  She was so nervous about the upcoming trip that her trepidation transferred to me, and I wished Craig or I could accompany her on this trek.  Our financial and work situations didn’t allow for it, though, so my mom had to dig deep inside of her to find the courage that had been packed away for a while.

Growing up in a very small farming town outside of Lansing, Michigan, she was the middle child, who wound up being the black sheep of the family.  While her older brother was the favored son (able to carry on the family name), and her younger sister the baby (and peacekeeper) of the family, my mom found that she just didn’t seem to fit in too well.  Throughout her youth, mom believed that there were better ways to treat children than the “seen, but not heard” manner that was the parenting norm back then.  She also found the hypocrisy of the town’s churchgoers (including her parents) to be so blatant as to turn her off from organized religion forever.

As soon as she was of age, she left her parents’ overbearing rule, and took off for her own slice of the world.  She met new people, found new ideas, and discovered things about herself that she’d only ever dreamed were true before.  It took her breaking away from them to prove the dreams were real; one of which was that she had a large amount of courage.

Over the next few decades she married, had kids, got divorced, moved around to new homes and new jobs, and struggled through life the best she could; just like we all do.  There were trials and tribulations along the way, and over the years, I think some of the harsher ones took their toll on her.  She began to find that she preferred to remain in her own home, where she felt safe.  Safe from things in this world that didn’t feel harmonious to her.  In her own haven, she didn’t have to worry about falling prey to people and circumstances that would make her feel like a victim.  I think she lost some of her courage along the way . . . or rather, she misplaced it.

So when the date for her move loomed closer, she started worrying about the long drive, by herself, in a packed car, towing a trailer behind her.  She knew there would be mountains, and had been told to buy some tire chains, because there was talk of snow still on the mountainous roads.  My mom doesn’t drive in snow well–it’s one of the reasons she left Michigan in the first place–so that added to the fear.  In addition to all that, she would be leaving a town she’d come to love, as well as people she cared for.  I’ve no doubt that my mom cried a lot during her trip back East.

However, she still made the journey.  Through all the daunting prospects of driving that kind of distance alone, in her later years, she still drove it.  Better still, she weathered the mountains (white-knuckled for much of them), the lonely stretches of open road, and whatever other obstacles cropped up, very well.  I congratulated her every day when she called to let us know of her progress, and encouraged her to celebrate each day’s victories, as well.  I know she didn’t necessarily feel courageous during most of the trip, since she was besieged by so much fear, but as Mark Twain said:

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear,
not absence of fear.

Now that she’s safely ensconced back in Michigan, I hope my mom will be able to look back at this journey and see it not as a harrowing cross-country trip, but as the experience that helped her dust off the courage she once wore as a cloak fit for the Amazonian Goddess that she is.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Craig
    May 11, 2012 @ 07:50:56

    Wow. A beautiful depiction of the beautiful soul that is your Mother. And I, for one, concur. Way to go Dolly, and Happy Mother’s Day.


  2. Cindy Sample
    May 11, 2012 @ 16:14:08

    Your Mom is brave. I’ve done that drive but with a husband to handle the Uhaul and I would NEVER do it again. Tell her I’m sending a High Five to her.

    The bravest thing my mother did recently was to take her Real Estate broker’s exam at the age of 83. It’s a 6 hour exam and her biggest fear was that she would fall asleep. Not only did she stay awake, she passed! Now you know where my drive comes from.


    • Alyx Morgan
      May 11, 2012 @ 16:23:04

      Yep, I definitely see the resemblance. 😉 That’s so awesome for your mom!

      I will definitely pass along the High Five, Cindy. Thanks for stopping by & giving it today.


  3. Dolly Chamberlin
    May 16, 2012 @ 11:43:48

    Thanks for all the encouragement, high fives, accolades, etc. It was an arduous journey. I made it safe, for that I am grateful. This was a “once was enough” kind of experience. :} I realize the strength and courage it took, & one day I may even be able to acknowledge it as me. I did what I felt needed to be done. Thanks again my “Sweet Neets”. I always appreciate your support. LOVES :}


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