Just before Mother’s Day, one year ago, I got a devastating call… My mother had been involved in a motorcycle accident and was in the ICU. I tried to call her wife, but my sister answered. My step mama was too hysterical to even speak to anyone. I begged my sister to keep me updated and let me know if I needed to catch a flight down to Tampa.
My mother and I have had our ups and downs over the years, and neither one of us is perfect, but she is truly one of my best friends, and I can’t imagine this world without her. Everyone that meets her immediately falls in love with her, and she has that “Ellen”-esque sense of humor that just has you cracking up nonstop. I know she loves me, and I love her so much.
I was really terrified for a few days that we were going to lose her. She had to have her leg amputated with several surgeries accompanying it, but she made it. I called my other stepmother, bawling, and she gave me the tough love I needed: “Courtney, your mother is one of the strongest women I know, and she will fight through this. She WILL be fine.” I knew those words were true. I held onto those words for the next several months.
My mother has always been one of the most active, go-getter women I’ve ever known. I was so worried that losing her leg would slow her down, and I would still lose a piece of the woman I had known my whole life. She finally made it out of ICU, out of the hospital, and into rehab. She showed how much of a fighter she truly is. She never felt sorry for herself and was determined to retrain her body to do everything she once had done – with only one leg now. She fought through the pain as the tissue and muscle healed around the amputation point. She fought through the pain and struggle of getting used to a prosthetic. She fought through the mental torture of what she was going through.
When I went down to visit her after she got out of rehab, it broke my heart to see her struggling to do things that were once so easy for her. It brings me to tears just to think back on it and write this. I kept trying to help her do things, but she refused my help. She told me it wasn’t out of pride, it was out of survival. She told me that if she didn’t learn how to do things on her own, she would be dependent on others for the rest of her life. She may have a physical handicap now, but she would not allow herself to have a mental handicap as a result. She is too young to do that to herself and to let her spirit die in the process. I understood her reasoning and watched helplessly as she fought through it all.
She sent all of us kids a text with pictures of herself in true form during rehab, saying, “Walked for 260 feet today and was outside for an hour. Great day!” She was still smiling and had bought “ihop” shirts with a graphic of a person with one leg, standing on crutches. It was totally her style to turn something so sad into something so comedic! I was so proud of her.
Then, on Instagram earlier this year, she posted: “Milestone #2 finished. Building in background is Tampa General. 11 months ago I was in ICU there, now running outside!”
Her beautiful wife was by her side, and they were so happy! She had finished her first 8K marathon since the accident! I was even more incredibly proud of my mother that she didn’t let losing her leg keep her down. In just one short year, she has pushed herself to do everything that she loves and be thankful that she has her life still. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that we did not lose the essence of who she is, that losing her leg did not dim her radiant shine.
One short year later, I look back and love my mother more than I ever have. She has always taught me so much in my life, but this lesson of joy and perseverance she taught me this past year is one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. My mother, stepmothers, and mother-in-law have all given me such greatness to aspire to, and I would be nothing of who I am without all of them. Happy Mother’s Day to all my Mamas, and I love you more than I could ever express in words. Thank you for who you are, despite everything life has thrown at each one of you. I am more amazed by each of you every day.