A proud mama watching the pure pleasure lighting up my son’s face
IT was a hot day, and the amusement park was packed.
Delighted shrieks filled the air as we sipped our ice-cold drinks from the all-you-can-drink refillable cup I’d paid for in anticipation of the heat. My girls split up, and I walked around with my youngest son, who just happens to be the perfect date (unbiased am I).
As we walked up to our first ride, we were pleasantly surprised to discover how my son had grown. Now he no longer needed someone to accompany him on a ride — and better yet, he was too tall for some of the kiddie rides. Instead, I joined him on some roller-coaster-type ride that jolted me from side to side as we navigated sharp turns at great heights, spun around much too quickly, and, of course, plunged dooooowwwwnnn.
As I climbed off shakily, feeling as if someone had shaken me upside down and rattled all my bones, my son sighed that the ride had been too short. Time to find another ride! Joy. But we walked around the park, going together on some rides, while for others I took a timeout and stood near the gate, a proud mama watching the pure pleasure lighting up my son’s face.
I watched my son’s hair ruffle in the breeze as he spun on the Tilt-a-Whirl, and felt my eyes tear up. I remember being his age, going to a theme park with my mom. But our story was a bit different: My mother did it alone.
Our father died when I was nearly five years old and my brother had just turned two. My mother became our primary caretaker (with a blip of a short remarriage somewhere in the middle). Besides the day-to-day responsibilities of cleaning, cooking, and caring for us while working full-time, my mom took us on road trips in the summer and traveled with us to family simchahs solo. This was in the days before cell phones and GPS, and my mother relied on those maps — the really annoying ones that are big and hard to fold back into place. We had lots of good, happy times, and at this point in my life I can’t recall mishaps or lost adventures. My mother somehow did it all, and with grace.
I sat on the bench watching my son and remembering, my emotions spinning in tandem with my son, tears spilling out of my eyes. Thank G-d for sunglasses!
The next day, I called my mother, the proud Bobby, to rehash our day — and to thank her for everything, for those years of dedication and solo summer trips. I asked her how she’d really felt on all those trips she took us on alone.
“Judy!” said my mother, the stoic Hungarian that she is. “I was never sad on these trips. I enjoyed watching you and your brother have fun! Yes, I missed your father, but there was always love that kept me going, love to give to you and to your brother.”
And so, as I continue on this Ride of Life, feeling the ups and downs and twists and turns that make my bones rattle, l will reflect on the advice of this brave woman. Love is what makes our world go round — and that’s not a sad thing at all.
Enjoy the ride.
L’iluy Nishmas my father, Yaakov Mordechai ben Yitzchok tzvi, upon his 44th yahrtzeit
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 856)
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