I will always remember that night. The year must have been 1980 or 1981 because the latest Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, was still playing in theaters. It was a Wednesday because my dad taught a class at the community college on Wednesday evenings, leaving me and my mom home for a weekly girls night. And it must have been spring because the evening in question included a classic spring storm. I have vivid memories of the rain coming down in sheets. The thunder was loud and voiceterous, the kind that resinates deep in your soul and makes you jump out of your skin when it rumbles.
After dinner my mom and I put on our raincoats, slipped into our four door 1980 light blue Pontiac Grand LeMans, the one with a royal blue vinyl top and room to comfortably seat six. I took my place in the giant backseat, which appeared darker and more massive than usual. Our destination was Venture Discount Store and our mission was to purchase a new Star Wars action figure for my growing collection. I even remember the action figure I was hoping to acquire, the one and only Lando Calrissian! The further we traveled from home to the store, the harder the rain began to fall. My nine year old self thought the lightening was going to strike the Grand LeMans so I recall jumping from my seat and hiding behind the driver seat, laying myself flat on the floor of the car. This was easy to do since in the early 80’s wearing a seatbelt was never inforced.
Perhaps the most vivid picture of the evening was the one of my mom gripping the large steering wheel so tight that her knuckles turned white. Although I could tell she was scared, she kept her cool, never complaining or showing me that she was terrified. You may think I was a spoiled little girl who got anything she requested and that my mom bent over backwards for me, filling my every wish. Although I had a blessed childhood and was clearly the center of my parents world, my mother didn’t venture out in the elements that night because she had a spoiled daughter. She had made me a promise and I had been looking forward to this adventure for weeks! I must have scored well on an assignment or an assessment or perhaps I had finally saved up my money to buy the Star Wars action figure myself. Going to the store to buy a new toy was not a regular occurrence. I can’t recall what I had done to earn the special trip to Venture but we were on a mission and my beautiful mom was keeping a promise she had made to me. Just one of the many promises she has kept and continues to follow through with over the past forty-four years of my life.
That evening was the first time I was struck with unmeasurable quilt. Seeing my mom do something she wasn’t comfortable doing (in this case driving in a huge storm) to get me a toy, something so insignificant, made me feel uncomfortable. My nine year old self couldn’t articulate it at the time but I was in awe of my mom and was amazed to see that my mom loved me so much that she made a sacrifice that night, gladly putting her daughter’s joy before her own.
Now that I have a daughter I realize that making sacrifices for your children is what motherhood is all about. My mom has taught me how to love and through her I have learned the importance of never making a promise you can’t keep. A mother gives of herself and never asks for anything in return. Seeing the joy on my daughter’s face is the best reward I could ever ask for.
Mom, although it has taken thirty-five years to hear a formal thank you for that stormy night trip to Venture, thank you! I am blessed to have you as a mother and I hope to follow in your footsteps as I raise Lillian. I know I will succeed because I learned from the best teacher in the galaxy!