At what time in our adult lives do we surrender to the fact that we are just like our parents? Maybe some of us never do, especially if our childhood was not the “Leave it to Beaver” type. In fact, some of us spend our entire lives trying to live a different life than the one we grew up in. Although I did not realize it as a child, I was lucky! My parents, although tough at times, made me who I am. I am my mother’s daughter, and this became evident to me a long time ago. It was proven again during this weekend’s JFK 50 miler.
I was accompanied to the race in Hagersville, Maryland by my mother, probably my biggest fan! She has been to all nine of my Ironman races, even coming as far as Hawaii to watch me compete. She is probably one of the most devoted mothers a child could have; this has been proven time and time again as she will drop everything to fly across the country, just to make sure that I had a dry pair of socks to change into at mile 38!
My mother is active, but not athletic. When I was born she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. At one point in her life it was so bad that she had to crawl to my crib, walking was not an option. Thanks to modern technology the RA is under control, but I know that every day she has to will herself to get out of bed because of the constant pain in her joints. Growing up, I never heard her complain. She worked hard, and no matter how much the wind blew, she put her head down and kept going. You might say, she is stubborn, but I have heard that us Germans can be that way!
I did not admit this to her, but during the race I had made up my mind at mile 32 to quit when I got to the mile 38 aid station. As I plodded through the miles from 32 to 38, feeling the marble size blisters on my feet rub painfully against my shoes, I thought about my mother. She was waiting there for me, with my bag of socks. She had flown over 1000 miles to help me get to the finish, because, “that’s what mom’s do,” she would say! But I knew that most moms would not do that, only mine! There was no way that I could quit; I was doing this race not just for me, but for her.
As I made my way to the finish line I knew my mom was waiting, just as she always had. The last 12 miles of agony seemed to melt away as I crossed the line and went to find a patch of grass to rest in until she found me. “Are you good enough to walk she asked?” “Sure” I said rather sarcastically! As I limped down the road to the car she looked at me and with a smile, half serious and have joking she said to me “I could carry you!” What she did not know… was that she already had!