Last month my mother had a special birthday. I would tell you the number, but she’s sensitive about such things. So, I’ll leave you to speculate.
In honor of my mother’s birthday, her four children and their families got together. We spent a couple of days at a resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
We hung out at a waterpark, watched football (yea Eagles – they won but really made us sweat), and ate cake. It was quality family time. Lots of fun.
While we were together, I shared a story about my mother. I’d like to share it with you as well.
My friends and I spent loads of time on our block playing sports. However, there was also a good deal of down time. We would sit on the steps in front of my house and talk about whatever young boys talk about.
We had a neighbor who lived around the block whose name was P. P. who was about 10 years older than my friends and me, was mentally challenged. During the summer, he used to enjoy riding his tricycle around the block.
P. would stop his tricycle in front of my friends, and me and say “hi.” His hi was loud and slurred and he kept waving his hand. P. would repeat “hi” a few times before eventually taking his leave and cycling down the block.
While my friends and I would mutter, “hi,” in response, we were embarrassed and didn’t know what to say or how to act. We were relieved when he left and would reengage in our conversation and act as if P. had never appeared.
Around the summer I turned 11, P. went through a phase. P. would kiss random women, smile, and go away. Yes, P. had become the kissing bandit.
One summer afternoon, my friends and I were hanging out on the steps in front of my house. Someone came up and told me, “P. kissed your mom.”
“Yeah, he just kissed her and went away.”
“Oh.” I was embarrassed for mom, but I didn’t know what to say.
My friends were abuzz over the news. However when my mom approached the house, everyone scattered.
As my mother walked up the steps, I fell in next to her. “Hi mom.”
“Hi dear. How was your day?”
“Mom, did P. kiss you?”
“Yes, he did.”
“What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“What? Why not? Aren’t you upset? ”
“No. He didn’t mean anything by it.”
“But Mom he’s been kissing girls all around the neighborhood.”
“He is just trying to be friendly. He’s not able to communicate with people the way you can. He doesn’t understand.”
But I did.
And in that moment my mother taught me some lessons that I carry to this day. I learned about appreciating others. I learned that not everyone is the same. I learned about empathy.
My mother is the humblest person I know. However, I gained wisdom from seeing her act.
May she have many more years of good health and joy.
I have much more to learn.