You Are An Extraordinary Woman





Dear Mom,


In some ways it’s hard to know how to start this letter.  We have spent more time together over the past thirty-two years than many people ever get to spend with anyone in their lifetime.  We have literally talked and shared and spent every single day together.  Too often though, the day-to-day routine and the inevitable stresses that sprout up get in the way of expressing the most important things. 


You never settle for anything but the best for me, and often you do so by not attending to your own needs and, most regrettably, at the cost of your personal health.  And you do so without seeking recognition or harboring resentment.  In your mind you’re simply doing what moms are supposed to do. 


In reality, though, you are an extraordinary woman who exceeds every measure of motherhood.  Above and beyond anything, you made it your life’s work to give me the best care that was humanly possible.  Whether it was driving to the furthest doctors or writing for advice across the country, my well-being was never left to chance.  When the experts couldn’t provide clear answers, you still found your way. 


I am thinking back to the details of our days; more than three decades is a long time.  In that period I can count on one hand the number of times you weren’t the person to dress me in the morning and get me in my wheelchair.  How many thousands of hours have we spent doing breathing treatments and chest percussion and learning new equipment?  It was all in an effort to clear sections from my lungs and avoid hospitalizations.  You did it to keep me healthy; you did it all for me.  Even when I did go to the hospital, as recently as last year and often for weeks at a time, you did not leave my bedside for a single night.  I have to say it again: you are an extraordinary woman.


You know what makes me really smile though?  When I think back over all the years, medical issues are not what come to the forefront of my mind.  From video games and football cards and Chicken McNuggets, to Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, to sand under my tires on the beach (and dare I say girly posters on my bedroom walls!) – you created the opportunities for me growing up to have all the experiences a boy was supposed to have.


Without question, the greatest of those opportunities came through your decision for me to attend public school.  At a time when it wasn’t a common sight to see wheelchairs rolling next to running children on the playground, you calmed administrators’ concerns and secured my seat in a fourth grade classroom.  You knew that is where I belonged.  School let me find friendship and achievement and community. 


Then when high school was over, you moved into my campus apartment so I could attend college, and then law school.  The Bar Exam posed the next challenge.  It was like relocating a small house into that hotel room so I could demonstrate my knowledge of contracts, criminal law and the constitution.  You endured seventeen hour days at my side, and you should have been sworn-in as a member of the Bar the same day I was.  There has been no hurdle you haven’t overcome to ensure I had the best opportunities and the best life experiences.  Mom, you are an extraordinary woman. 


You always believed in me no matter the odds.  From the moment you learned my diagnosis at eight months old, there was no doctor’s prognosis or bureaucrat’s red-tape that could stifle your conviction in what ought to be.  Your vision for me was limited only by my own interests and aspirations.  It wasn’t that you told me I could be whatever I wanted to be; your actions made me believe I should never limit myself.  You did everything to create a way of life for me to reach my full potential. 


On the surface, I seem like the natural person to congratulate for whatever successes I’ve had and for whatever challenges that have been overcome.  People give me distinction for having strength or courage or determination.  Truthfully, what too few people recognize, I learned all of those things from you. 


Words cannot convey how fortunate I have been in my life because of you, but I hope this letter expresses what you mean to me.  I will be eternally grateful for the person you are.  I will be eternally grateful for your care and your dedication and your love.  No one has been more blessed than me.  I am so proud to be your son. 


Mom, I love you. 




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