Tap Dancing with Diane


Last night I had a dream that I was tap dancing down the streets of New Orleans with Tony Bennet. A person walking on the street stopped him and asked, “What are the top 4 memories of your life?” He replied, “Audrey, Nancy, Rebecca, and Samantha.” I laughed, and we continued tap-dancing down the road arm in arm. It was then I heard my alarm clock and woke up for my trip. It’s Mother’s Day. My best memory in my life? The times I’ve spent with my mother.

My Mother and I Shortly After Graduation from The Ohio State University

Since I had to travel on Mother’s Day, we celebrated yesterday. I found the best airport swag – a tin filled with hand and foot creams with the label “skin rescue.” As sick as she has been over the last few months, she hasn’t spent the usual amount of time taking care of her hands and feet. So the kids and I spent the evening with her. We took her out to dinner. I helped her put cream on her dry skin and brought a boutique of beautiful flowers for her to admire. The flowers pale to her beauty. 

As I walked through the airport today, I saw so many mothers. Struggling to pull suitcases, little kids dirty hands, and feed them on airplanes with smushed peanut butter sandwiches. I boarded the airplane behind a young family with a 4-year old son and two twin boys under the age of 2. The parents were dragging three car seats, a stroller, and their luggage down the jetway. Midway down, I grabbed the bag with the stroller and carried it down the rest of the way. The father said to me, “Thank you so much. It will be so much easier when we come home with my parents.” Ah, parents….we save the day!

My Mom and I at the Annual Lenexa Midnight Ride

On my short flight into San Francisco, I had a mother sitting next to me at the bulkhead. She was the last person to board the plane, and she didn’t speak any English. I am eager to practice my Spanish anytime I can. I did my best to tell her that her bag had to be put into the overhead, but the only space was a few rows back.  A gentleman helped her put her bag up, and she took her seat. We sat waiting on the plane for quite a while. And as the plane was increasingly delayed on the tarmac, she grew anxious about her connecting flight. I asked her where she was flying to….she said she was on her way to San Antonio to visit her family. She is originally from Guadalajara. I told her it is a beautiful city. She corrected my “Hermosa” and said “Bonita.” 

Upon landing, I retrieved her bags from the overhead and let her off the airplane first. Once off the ramp and into the terminal I helped her to find her gate on the Arrivals display and walked her to her gate to make sure she made it safely. On the way, I asked her if I was saying it correctly, “Dia de la Madre?” She corrected me again. I then told her to have a Happy Mother’s Day. She took my hand, warmly squeezed it, and thanked me in Spanish and again in English. As I said goodbye to her, I thought of how many times my mother has helped others. Whether it is helping children as a volunteer with CASA or as a coach for youth girls softball, she has done so much for others in her life. What a great role model.

Over the last six months after moving my parents to California, my mother has apologized to me over and over again for how much of a burden she has become. Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how many diapers, smushed peanut butter sandwiches, and booboos (big and small) you have kissed and made go away? You were there for the birth of all my kids, through the less-than-favorable relationships, and you always answered the phone and listened to my stories. Six months are just the beginning of repaying the unending love and patience that you have shown me my entire life. The only burden I feel is that I didn’t move her closer to me years ago so we could have shared more of the good years. But every year with her in my life is a good year. And I’m not sure we have that many more to share. If I could just put our lives together on pause and stop the progression of our limited time together.

I’m not sure if my mother ever met Tony Bennet, but today my mother is tap dancing with me down the streets of Portland. And if someone stops me and asks me what my best memory is in life, I’ll say “Diane.”