Yep, I have permanently grounded Mom, but it’s not for bad behavior, goodness no!
It’s because our family unanimously agreed she should no longer have to climb thirteen steps to get to the second floor of her old (1796) colonial farmhouse where her living room, eating area and bedroom are located.
The same goes for going down thirteen steps to get to street level.
So, Melissa and I transformed the family room on the first floor into Mom’s new bedroom; the dinning room into her living room; and a small space in the kitchen for her to dine. All the rooms, including a bathroom, are within just a few steps of each other.
No more climbing steps. Mom will be my “Step Mom” no more.
“Step Mom” is what I nicknamed her after writing Sky High Climber in March of 2013, because she could take those steps like she was ascending or descending the tallest mountains on earth … no fear … no complaints. She was like a windup toy. Wind her up and she would grab the handrails and just keep step, step, stepping until she reached her destination.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King
As she approached the stairwell, she would ask me if I thought she could do it. I would say, “Absolutely, you can do it, Mom”. And, with that, she just did it! There was never any hesitation or a time she refused. Never.
I was with her every step of way. She would never, nor would I ever let her use those stairs alone. I was always there to steady her or catch her if needed, but I never had to do either.
My family has wanted me to move Mom down to the first floor for a long time. I was the lone holdout. For that, I have been challenged, questioned or gently nudged many times over.
I understand and respect everyone’s concerns. I know all the safety reasons why Mom shouldn’t be walking up and down those steps. And, I am sure you are making mental notes of your reasons, too.
I just couldn’t give in. I literally couldn’t. I just didn’t want to see another chapter in Mom’s life come to an end.
All of her strength, determination,will power, grace and style … all of what defines what Mom is made of, who she is, was exemplified in those precious moments it took to walk those 13 steps together.
And, as always, she did it with a smile. She counted every step out loud. We celebrated each one she made, as well as every time she reached her destination. “You did it, Mom … you did it!”
Now, all of that … along with too much more, becomes a memory.
Mom has slept in her new bed downstairs for five nights now. Fortunately for her, she hasn’t realized she is in a new place. She had slept in her upstairs bedroom for forty-some years. She had been climbing those steps, including the ones to the third floor, all those years, too.
She doesn’t realize she is in a tiny twin bed versus her beautiful mahogany four poster canopy bed dad made for the two of them when I was just a kid.
She doesn’t know the difference in her grand, formal living room and her newly converted living area.
The only thing she hasn’t forgotten is her smile … her sense of joy.
Mom is happy where she is.
And, for this, I am happy.
For all I can’t forget, and will have no more, I am crying.
We’ve climbed a lot of steps together, “Step Mom” and me. And, together, with our heads in the clouds and our feet on the ground … we will continue our climb.
“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” – Greg Child
She is a beautiful lady Tom and you are a wonderful son, God bless you both!
Mom and I each traveled another mile-and-a-half on those thirteen steps together after I wrote Sky High Climber (Link above) in March of 2013.
If Mom is “Step Mom” … I must be “Step Son.”
A smile and a sense of joy! That would be Helen. Love to all of you!
Her smile and her joyful spirit are contagious. She makes a lot of people’s day, every day. PS – And even at this distance, she makes yours and you make ours.
Super story regarding this fantastic lady. She actually has been climbing those stairs for forty-one years, since Valentines Day of 1973!
There are no two people in RVA who are more joined at the hip with my family (other than family) than you two. You know how we are a society that loves to award honorary degrees … well, by the power vested in me, I would like to make you honorary members of our family! You are now my little bro’ and sis’. Congratulations!
So, what are you waiting for … come on over and empty the garbage, clean your rooms and start cooking dinner. This dishing out honorary stuff is making me hungry.
Your New Big Bro (which means you have to do anything/everything I say do)
This touched me so deeply, Tom and Melissa….but it makes me smile to know that Helen is such a happy soul. I see it every time I see her.
Mom is so happy and filled with joy. I believe she could have teamed with Pharrell Williams on his “Happy” song and made it even happier!
Thanks for your kind words, Vickie. Happy soul is what Mom is … a bona fide, certified, authentic, one-of-a-kind, happy soul if ever there was one. And … she always has been. She just doesn’t know any other way to be.
By the way, did you notice your camper in the background?
Pingback: Month of May: A Reflection on the Last 5 Years | My 91 Year Old Mom