The first time I ever rode a rollercoaster was with my mom. The shorter the line got, the more nervous I became, but my mom wouldn’t let me back out. She had always loved rollercoaster & assured me I would, too.
Once we were strapped in our seats I realized we were in the very first car! I could see all the drops & loops & danger ahead! Just before we were shot out onto the tracks, in near hysterics I screamed “MOMMMM, I’m scared! I want out!” In a flash we were launched rapidly upward, then slowed way down while continuing to climb the track. My mother chose this moment of calm before the steep drop directly ahead to respond “You can’t do anything about it now! Just Shut your eyes, throw your hands in the air and enjoy the ride!”
I followed her lead as we screamed our way thru the ride’s twists & turns. Mom was right, it was a blast! We rode 2 more times back to back and that sealed the deal on my love of amusement parks.
Growing up, we frequented the nearby Astroworld, in Houston & went on an annual summer trip to Six Flags in Dallas, with all of our cousins and aunts, compliments of my grandmother. But nothing compared to Disney World, where mom and dad took my brothers & I to celebrate my dad getting his doctorate. It was, well, Magical! I couldn’t wait to someday go to Disneyland!
So since before Emily was born I have wanted to take her to Disneyland . When she started to gravitate towards Minnie Mouse, I was happy to indulge our mutual love for all things Minnie. So was my mom. Grammar Spoiled her with Minnie & Mickey toys, books, purses, hats, dolls, the works.
Before my mom got sick she had planned to take Emily on a Disney Cruise with my aunt Shelly & some other extended family. She’d had the deposit down & their tickets reserved for months when she was first diagnosed w cancer. Of course my ever energetic, ever optimistic mother didn’t cancel the trip, she just brainstormed ways to work the cruise around her cancer treatment . Once her hysterectomy was scheduled tho, the Disney Cruise was out of the question.
The next several months of clinical trials hospital visits, scans & invasive procedures would have been enough to dampen anyone’s spirit. But my mother is not just anyone. She handled it all with her typical grace, grit & boundless faith.
Then came a miracle; Mom was in remission! Our entire family took a collective sigh of relief. We were over joyed! Mom celebrated her remission by coming to San Francisco to see her favorite girls!
We had a fantastic visit; Emily was glued to Grammar’s side every minute. Having my mother in our home; watching She & Emily play; seeing her relax & get to know Amie while Amie lovingly waited on her hand & foot; Laughing & crying thru our traditional late night talks, warmed my heart & filled me w the peace & calming reassurance only a mother’s comforting presence can bring.
I noticed my mom moved at a slower pace, her energy level was much lower than usual, she was contending w aches & pains thru nearly every task… but she was still herself ; Vibrant, happy & completely taken with her grand baby . Her laugh was the same, big, loud, contagious. Her love & her light were just as they’d always been.
I felt such relief as she spoke about future plans and possibilities. We even tentatively discussed attempting another Disney trip. Surely by spring or summer she would be back to 100% , right? “Who knows?! Either way, I’m going sky diving!” She said.
About a week or two after mom had gone back to Texas, Amie came home with a big surprise; 4 TICKETS TO DISNEYLAND !
“Let’s see if your mom can come with us” she said. My heart melted, how did I get this life with this beautiful woman? She’d purchased them as far in advance as possible so we’d have the flexibility to change plans if needed. We could stay right next to the park so Grammar had easy hotel access for resting , we could break the days into 4ths so she could do it in small bursts, I could push her in a wheel chair or we’d rent a scooter for her …we would make it work. When I talked to my mom later that week, I asked her how she’d feel about going to Disneyland with us in 2019. She said “Let’s just take it one day at a time”.
3 short days later we got the upsetting news that mom’s cancer was back and rapidly spreading. I spent weeks and weeks completely preoccupied w worry, unable to focus on anything but mom’s cancer & my fears about mom’s cancer.
Because she looked like she was doing well & kept her sunny, Pollyanna-esq disposition, we held out hope that my mom would go into remission again. Appointment after appointment tho, brought bad news, terrifying scan results & complicated questions. There was no more talk of Grammar joining us on our Disney trip.
We had booked everything for Amie’s birthday weekend, April 26-29. My best friend Hilary, is coming with us. Hilary knows & loves my mother & has been a friend of the family since we were in high school. She understands. I’m so glad she will be with us.
Emily knows we are going on a trip but not where we are going. I can’t wait to see her little face when we surprise her with the news!! She’s going to freak!
I’m getting the family vacation I always wanted for us. I am SO EXCITED & so in love w Amie for putting this together, all while I’ve been falling apart.
Still, this trip comes at a difficult time & is itself a reminder of my mother’s failing health.
Hard as it may be I will tuck my worries away for the wknd & live in the moment, be present for the memories we will make. I’ll be strong for my family , I’ll find joy in all I can, I’ll remain optimistic.
When I’m ascending the bumpy tracks to the highest peak of the scariest rollercoaster I won’t worry or fear for the drop off on the other side. I’ll follow my mother’s advice I will close my eyes, throw my hands in the air & just enjoy the ride.