By Cherimie Crane
In the bottom of a large wooden trunk, tattered and torn are the years of my life. Page after page of feelings, emotions, events, confusion, and shenanigans that shall forever remain at the bottom of that large wooden trunk. However, one powerful word appears on page after page. This word represents the struggle, the bond, the very essence of the good, the bad, and the horrible that is me: Momma.
It is rumored that when I was born, I looked at her, she looked at me and the battle lines were drawn. Beside the blonde ringlets, the blue eyes, and the piglet nose, no other similarities could be found. She was sweet and quiet, I was somewhere in a mud puddle. Her dreams for me were classical piano and ballet slippers; I preferred a fishing pole and boots. If memory serves, during the first 10 years of my life my name was “Cherimie, NO!”
It wasn’t a lack of love or affection; we simply differed on every single issue known to man. She loved my long straight hair, so I gave myself a perm. Needless to say, Momma won that one. She spent hours upon hours sewing the most beautiful Sunday dresses; and, in less than 4.5 seconds, I had shimmied up a tree or donated them to many of my barn-banned friends. It just so happened that my pig, Porky, was the same exact size as my Sunday Best. One can imagine, there were more than a few heated arguments.
The majority of our conversations were a clear octave higher than most, and usually punctuated with a slamming door or with, “She is YOUR Daughter” directed at Daddy. Either way, they were unique and passionate. She would gasp in horror, and I would stand firm in pure shock. Same reaction, different catalyst. Daddy spent years trying to translate, mediate, and calm; finally, he realized the back porch swing was the only neutral zone. So there he went, and in that swing he sat for my teenage years.
In one of my torn and tattered pages, is one of the most difficult days I remember as a child. My Momma, the most capable, graceful, active woman I knew would soon be in a wheelchair. I distinctly remember that doctor, and what it felt like to hate for the first time. All my frustration, confusion and pride was directed at that poor man with the power of a small nuclear device. How dare he say that about my Momma.
I knew she was walking a bit slower. Conversations with her and Daddy late at night had changed, and her morning jog had been gone for quite a while. This doctor obviously didn’t know my Momma. Had he not seen her come up a tree in record time just to get me down? Did he not know that she could out run me? Maybe he hasn’t seen her throw me over her shoulders to discourage me from chasing cows? He obviously has the wrong Momma.
He didn’t. My life changed. The battles ended, and the partnership began. As if a switch had been flicked, instead of fighting my Momma, I became her. Instead of morning visits to the barn, I learned to cook grits and braid my sister’s hair. Many mornings, I would lay Momma on a blanket and pull her to the bath. Daddy had to work, so somebody had to do it. I never saw her cry. She never asked for help. She found ways to accomplish tasks that most simply could not have done. The strength and stubborn ways that had caused so many fights had become inspiring. She fought, and she fought. Surgery after surgery, painful physical therapy, experimental drugs, and hopeless hospitals stays became her reality.
For several years, I watched her struggle. Once the most beautiful woman I knew, she now preferred the background. She hid her hands and her feet due to their deformity. Somehow she never missed any of my cheerleader competitions. Sometimes she would watch from the car, but she never missed one.
On my 21st birthday, I saw my Momma walk up the stairs to my house for the first time in years. The latest experimental drug was working. I distinctly remember that day and what pride really meant.
Although there is a slight limp, and she still hides her hands and feet, my Momma kayaks with me. My Momma sews the prettiest dresses, paints the most amazing pictures, and challenges me like no other can. Once again we are passionately debating just about every aspect of my life, thank goodness.
It is true, I am a Daddy’s girl, but there is no question as to where my strength, my determination, and my spirit derived. The things that frustrated me most about her are the things I will forever admire. She may not be able to bait her own hook or back up a trailer, but she can look life square in the face and say, I win. Happy Mothers Day, to all the Mommas who are Mommas no matter what life may throw your way.