I was not a brave child. I leaned hard on my parents. It terrorized me to be lost or separated from them. I remember visiting my grandparents in Scarsdale, New York. I was very young and didn’t see them often. I woke up from a nap and my mother was in the basement of their building doing laundry. I panicked. I remember my grandfather taking me down to see her reluctantly calling me a "baby" the whole way down. I can still hear him... "Baby, baby, baby..." I have very few memories of him. Everyone else describes such a great man. I keep my mouth shut and smile.
I couldn’t even sleep over at friends’ houses. I almost never accepted invitations. On the rare occasion that I did, I just endured it. I was miserable.
As I grew up I always knew I could run back home if I needed. I did it rarely, but knowing that gave me strength. I went off to college and battled homesickness for much of my freshman year. I could call my parents at any hour and get a hold of caring listener. My mother was great. She listened and always found the words to build me up so I could go back and tackle the world.
With her encouragement, I spent a semester in France. It was an amazing experience and without her words, I don’t know if I would have had the courage. They promised to come see me and they came to Nice right around my 21st birthday. It was such a shot in my arm to see them. It made me strong.
I was always amazed at my peers that didn’t need this constant support. I still don’t understand the difference between them and me.
As a new mother, my parents continued to support me. My father came over when I had a sleepless night with a baby. He would walk the baby so I could sleep. He was amazing. Knowing that he would be there in the morning allowed me to stay up at night with sick children and be a good mother.
My father died. My friend was gone. The rug was yanked and it took a long time for me to be able to stand up again. I still feel cheated to be without him. I was a late child and another ten years with him are due me. Not fair.
My children grew and suddenly I was the source of their strength. I realized why my strength had been fed and nurtured for so long. I was training for this. It was time to pay it forward and be a testimony to the strength that they provided.
My mother needs me now. She can’t be there to listen, to tell me exactly what I need to hear. I need to pay back all the support she gave me. I need to pay it forward to my kids, my husband, my job, my dogs, my bird…
I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
I have to.