Since that time, I'd purchased lenses and other gear. Every now and again, my fun money reserve had to be tapped for emergencies or what not. That scene from "Up" comes to mind. You know, the one where they are saving for Paradise Falls. They are constantly breaking the savings bank for this and that. Well, that's what happened to us for these past several years. Then, I got the savings statement...I finally had enough in my account to not only make the purchase, but with a tiny (minuscule) nest egg left over. I felt a great sense of accomplishment.
Of course, there's an and then, right? Remember when I told you I was going to be photographing my friend's wedding? Well, circumstances out of my control changed that. Not good or bad, but they've been changed. I'm still in the wedding. Instead of slightly less than breaking even on the trip (payment was going to be in the form of tickets/lodging for two), it will now be coming completely out of my pocket. If you've ever been in a wedding, let alone a wedding in a far off place, it costs some money. Back to the safety net I went and well, now isn't the time for me to make the large purchase. At the time I was making the sizable withdrawal to cover the expenses related to the trip, I was talking with my mother. I was celebrating the accomplishment and also lamenting.
In her ever encouraging voice, she told me that I should be proud of making the milestone and now that I know I could get there, it would only be a matter of time before I would be there again. Being there for a friend on his big day was priceless. She was right. Then she took it a bit further...
Mom likes to watch Ellen and Oprah, when she was on. She reads O magazine. Since I have gotten older, the world has grown smaller and things that were once not quite mainstream are easily and readily mainstream. Mom has always known I've had a love affair with fashion, beauty, and art. She may not have always agreed with me, but she tried to hone that love in her own way.
Knowing all that, she said, "You know what, mi'ja. I want to buy you those red soled shoes you love so much. I don't even know what they are called. I know they are really expensive. Oprah has talked about them. I know how much you love shoes. I know you love those shoes. You've talked about them many times. I want to get them for you. I want you be able to wear them while you are still young. One day, you will grow too old to wear such shoes. You deserve them. You work hard, you should have something that makes you feel special. That's why I want to get them for you. One of the next times I'm in town, I would like us to go shopping for them."
I was speechless.
This coming from the woman who didn't like the idea of spending $30 on a pair of canvas Keds for cheerleading tryouts for me in 7th grade, but later surprised me that morning with my very own. She wanted me to appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into earning something.
When I started earning my own living, she always seemed happy to see my new handbags and shoes (I allowed myself a monthly allowance for bags and shoes). She liked to see how I would dress up for work when she would stay a few days for a visit. She said she knew it was time for me to go by the way me heels would click down our hallway. (I was such a lover of that click-clack sound as a girl!) I liked that I'd grown into a woman that she was proud of. I loved watching her dress and in a similar manner, I can see Mari admiring me when I dress in the mornings. Mari knows mommy's work shoes (she revels in putting them away for me when I kick them off after getting home), like she knows my work outfits. All of them dry cleaned and a complete opposite of my evening and weekend outfits...typically clad in sweats, old-old-much-too-old tshirts, or faded jeans. I always, like Mom, try to have some gloss or color on my lips.
Similarly, when I went to Europe nearly 10 years ago, she slipped me a hundred dollar bill and told me to enjoy myself. To not worry about the money. I used that money partly for an evening out when I was in Rome, change from that evening was launched into Trevi fountain, and the remaining amount was spent on a bottle of wine on the Isle of Capri as I watched the waves lap onto the shore of a perfect and pristine afternoon. In those moments she was there with me. In all of these moments, she surprises me with her support for my dreams.
It goes without saying that I'm eternally grateful to her and for all of you for your prayers over the past year. You see, mom is now recovering so well, she can walk a half mile unassisted, with only the use of her walking sticks. You don't begin to know how much of an accomplishment this is. If you know her, then you do know how much of an accomplishment this is and what a struggle is has been. She's tall, upright, smiling- no beaming, and walking, as if none of this had ever happened. Tenacious, gentle spirit.
I'm gonna get that camera.