I recently read this passage written by Ricky Gervais in response to a question about his article in The Wall Street Journal about being an atheist.
“One selflessly did her best for me all my life. That’s what mums do though. They do it for no other reason than love. Not for reward. Not for recognition. They create you. From nothing. Miracle? They do those every day. No big deal. They are not worshiped. They would give their life without the promise of heaven. They teach you everything they know yet they are not declared prophets. And you only have one.”
We know as a matter of fact that we’re all going to die. Maya reminded me of this first thing the other morning. “Mom, we’re all going to die.” “Yes, but let’s get dressed first.” I decided to be very matter-of-fact dealing with death when she said recently, after my parents had left our house one day, “I hope they aren’t going to die.” I found myself saying, “They’re not going to die,” but that just wasn’t true. They are. We all are going to die. It’s just part of the deal. What happens after that – no idea. But the energy goes somewhere, so we’re teaching our kids that too. We go back into the pool for another round – your particles, your energy – you get to be part of other things. But the one unique YOU will never be again. You are special, exclusive and cannot be duplicated. So we better enjoy our time together while we can.
My mom definitely fits the category of unique soul. There is none quite like Carol Minter. She’s generous beyond measure. But not just with money and presents. She gives people time. She welcomes, with open arms, the people who need the listening the most. Her home is open for anyone. She’s housed all four of her grown children and our friends and even an ex-boyfriend when we needed a place to stay. She’s got room for you, if you need a place. And she’ll sit with you and hash out what’s going on in your life. And she’ll hear you if you need to say, “I just need to be heard. Please don’t try to solve it.” But she won’t be afraid to tell you when you’re dead wrong and you need to hear it. She’ll show up with wine and groceries and treats just when you need them. She is a tremendous friend. She has taught me what it means to truly value friendship and to keep them thriving for many years. She’ll do anything for those women in her life. You better have a sense of humor to be around my mom though. She’s got a wildly inappropriate and wicked wit. She is so stinking funny. She doesn’t take herself or life too seriously. There’s always the funny side of a situation.
If it weren’t for early detection my mother’s breast cancer could have taken her life. And every day, when I’m chatting with her on the phone about nothing, I’m so extremely grateful. My mom’s energy will one day join the universe and become part of a duck-billed platypus or a Venus flytrap or some other unusual creature, but, for now, it’s all packaged together in the completely unique package of my mom. For now she's still making me laugh with jokes about herself and about this crazy life.
Today, as I was leaving the mother’s day breakfast at Maya’s school, I saw another mother waiting for me in her car, crying. She had heard me talking about walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. She wanted to tell me thank you. Thank you? Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, and it has now progressed to brain cancer. She’s not doing well. And this woman wants to thank me? Her one unique mother is dying, painfully. I felt so humbled. I had been on the fence about whether to walk again next year, and, all at once, I felt like I could run 39 miles. Yes, I’ll do it. Again and again. Because, even though we all have to die, we don’t have to die like that. We don’t have to lose our mothers, sisters and daughters to this disease. We don’t have to watch another woman diagnosed.
Walking was the least I could do. The real people to thank are the people who gave the money. My team of donors contributed over $2200. Our team raised over $20,000, and the Washington, DC Avon Walk 2011 brought in over FIVE MILLION. And that’s money that will fund research for early detection. That’s money that will keep families fed with home-delivered meals while their mothers undergo treatment. That’s money for counselors to help people as they navigate treatment and insurance and ongoing wellness. But they need more.
So, I’m writing this to say thank you to my donors. Thank you for giving. Thank you for helping save someone else’s one unique mother. I’m also writing this for my mom. Because in two days it will be Mother’s Day, and I’m going to spend the day thanking people for helping me keep her around. She’s the only one I will ever have. And, dammit, I want to keep her! I’m also writing this to tell you that I’ll be walking again next year. And I’ll be shamelessly asking you for money again. Because I can’t look another mother in the face unless I know that I’ve done EVERYTHING I can to help save her one unique mother.
I love you, mom.
Happy Mother’s Day, you rascal.