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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

Once again, I’m raised up on the wings of my mother

BY JIM GRIES, Guest columnist

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Sometimes life takes us for a ride, an emotional high that puts us far above the clouds.  I’ve experienced just such a moment, and it came with the woman who brought me into this world, loved me, cared for me, nurtured me and prepared me for the trip we all embark on — that is, life’s journey.  

This amazing woman was my 92-year-old mother, Ruth, one of 11 siblings. She was born on a farm in Nebraska in 1916. Ruth demonstrated early vigor by surviving the ravages of scarlet fever that took the lives of two of her siblings. 

As a young woman, Ruth never enjoyed the luxuries we all enjoy today — running water, electricity, telephones, television, washers, dryers or microwavable meals. 

She washed clothes by hand on a washboard, bathed once a week in a galvanized bathtub, carried water from the well to the house, prepared every meal from scratch and created her own wholesome entertainment through ball games, played with family, friends and neighbors in nearby cow pastures. 

Ruth became known for her ball playing prowess, and was a sought-after ball player, leading to several of the neighboring town teams calling upon her to either pitch or catch; she was known as a spike player. 

One of her most accomplished moments was when she hit four home runs in one game, and told of how proud her father was when her name headlined the weekly newspaper.  She was the female version of Babe Ruth, and to this day relishes reliving those wonderful moments of enjoyment. And if you put a rubber ball in her hand, she would still play a little catch with you. 

Over the past years, I had grown apart from my only surviving sister, much to my mother’s disappointment. Her greatest wish was for her two children to reconcile while she was still alive. Little did either of us know just how, when, or if ever this might occur. 

As a result of a life-threatening set of circumstances and complications I arrived at my mother’s bedside in Nebraska to be near in her time of need. I spent wonderful hours of conversation, along with massaging her feet, hands and addressing tender spots brought about through numerous surgeries and subsequent complications. 

She affectionately reminded me that I was merely repaying a debt for all the hours she had spent doing the same for me, during my own childhood battle with polio.  My Mother soon earned the admiration of doctors and staff alike, as the toughest, most determined 92 year old they had ever encountered.  

Indeed Ruth demonstrated “I’m a fighter – not a quitter” qualities that would make Hillary Clinton envious. 

On my second day there, my sister and I found ourselves on either side of our ailing mother’s bed, each holding one of her hands, and feeling an overwhelming surge of emotion. 

After a few fleeting moments my sister and I could resist no longer, as we reached across mother’s lap and grasped each other’s free hand. Words can’t begin to describe the ensuing powerful moments. 

As if by magic we had connected the too long unconnected dots allowing powerful emotions to flow freely between the three of us; in one poignant moment in time, the three of us once again had became one. 

As if to put an exclamation point on this powerful moment, mother’s eyes opened, and with tears of joy flowing down her cheeks she uttered precious words only a loving mother can deliver; “All is well with my world,” she closed her eyes and smiled knowing her prayers had been answered. 

Our 92-year-old, 100-pound mother had put me and my sister on her back and took us to emotional heights no airliner, no space shuttle or no rocket-propelled launch could ever attain. Indeed we had experienced a once in a lifetime emotional high on the wings of our wonderful mother. 

I share this personal moment in the hopes of motivating each of you who may still take that flight on the wings of your mother this Mother’s Day. Don’t pass it up, it’s a ride you’ll never forget.

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