My Mom or Why I Want To Be Like Jayden

May 20, 2011

I recently was moved by an amazing video on Yahoo that hit home with me. A Colorado high school baseball player Jayden Goldenstein accomplished an amazing feat just two days after finding out his mother passed away. He played in a doubleheader where he pitched a no-hitter in the first game and then proceeded to hit four home runs in the second game. Both victories that day allowed his team to win the league title.

I was moved by that video because my mother passed away in the beginning of April. While Jayden had not been very close with his mother, I was close to mine. She was a single mom who made plenty of sacrifices to raise me in a “normal” environment. And while there were plenty of things I may have missed out on as a kid (the annual family vacation comes to mind), I never felt deprived.

Instead of going away on vacation, I dragged her (willingly) to too many Cubs and White Sox games to count. It was much more affordable in those days. We got there early so I could enjoy batting practice and get autographs while she read her Harlequin romance novels and engaged in some serious people watching. I was a kid in heaven. That was our vacation.

As a child I could tell my mother did her best to make me happy. However, there were times she couldn’t give me everything I wanted. She told me stories of the times we went shopping and I would ask for this toy or that one – she mentioned how painful it was to say no to me because she didn’t have the money. She said that I would cry and then after she explained why she couldn’t buy me the toy, I was quiet and settled down.

I also have many memories waiting for the “big green limousine,” aka the CTA bus, with my mom. Had the Game Boy been invented at that time, I would have worn out the buttons as we waited for those buses.

Don’t get me wrong, there were other very important people in my life when I was a kid: my dad, my grandparents, my uncles. I love them dearly for giving me the love, support and a sense of normalcy in my life that I really needed. But through thick and thin, good times and bad, it was my mom who was in my corner most of the time.

In more recent years, one of my favorite things to do was to invite my mother over and cook her a good meal. It was payback for all the meals she cooked for me as a kid. I soon understood how cooking a good meal for the family could bring joy to parents and grandparents.

So when my mom experienced her health problems in recent years (heart failure and diabetes), it was a no-brainer for her to move in with me. I couldn’t help thinking of how she took care of and nurtured me when I was a kid. In the last six months, she became more dependent on me and I was her caregiver. I did my best to take care of her like she took care of me.

Now she’s at peace and I’m picking up the pieces of my life. My life is a mixture of feeling relieved that she’s no longer suffering and grief because she’s no longer with me. And like Jayden, I want to do something that pays tribute to and honors my mother. I want to throw the proverbial no-hitter and hit numerous home runs in the game of life. At this point I’m not quite sure what that is. But I have a feeling her spirit will be with me as I try.