I’m not sure when we got the call. I don’t know if one of my brothers phoned, or if it was my sister Lynn. All I remember is that it was one those fateful phone messages that forever altered the complexion of our family.
My mom had been in a car accident. Teresa and I were about 12 at the time, on the precipice of adolescence and all it’s pubescent promises.
Those promises would have to be parked. My mom was in the back seat, having gone to lunch with a few of her friends in Studio City.
They were rounding Ventura Boulevard near Market Basket near my aunt’s Mexican Flea Market, when they were rear-ended from behind. Instead of putting on the brakes, my mom’s friend accelerated. The car went smashing into the side of the building, and my mother’s femur was crushed.
In her younger days, she had been a professional dancer. As any athlete can attest, being immobile is one of the hardest challenges imaginable. Every family has its shares of tragedy.
Show me a Leave It To Beaver household, and underneath, you’ll probably find some family tragedy. Maybe it was child abuse. Maybe it was drug addiction. Perhaps it was a brush with the law or some weird illness.
Every family has its stories, triumphs and challenges. Well, this was our family challenge. My older sister Lynn was on the verge of getting married, so she didn’t want to park her plans to help out with my mother. My brothers were all in their own orbits, so the task of caring for my mom fell upon Teresa and me. It wasn’t easy.
Nine months in a body cast isn’t something many people can fathom. My mom took these hardships like a trooper; doing her best to rehabilitate, gain strength and mobility in her right leg, so she could become active again.
I remember taking her across the street to our neighbor’s house on Pacoima Court, as they had a pool. There, she would do her exercises, as I shared my classroom adventures while attending summer school. We became very close during that time.
I remember Teresa and I being being driven to Walter Reed Junior High by a burly woman named Mary Johnson. Obviously, my mom wasn’t able to get us to school, so Mary did many of the household chores.
She wasn’t the friendliest of females, but her iron will held our family together, with a resolve I can only imagine. As the years commenced, my mom began to return to those activities she loved.
Although her leg wasn’t the same leg anymore, she eventually took up golf after she married her second husband, Eddie Mayo. She never complained, even though one leg was a good two inches shorter than the other. Despite her setbacks, she tried to remain an optimist.
Most of all, she led by example, and to this day, I still hold those lessons she taught close to heart.
And although she’s been gone for over 11 years, I still hold her dear to me when things are tough.
Compared to some of the things she had to endure, my life is pretty easy.
Thank you mom, for all you’ve done for me.