One day, my dad came into the house and asked my mom for some help outside. He was building the chicken coop and needed help with something on the roof. So, we all trooped outside with them to see what was going on and to help. Up the ladder went my dad and my brothers, up the ladder started my mom with me right behind her. Mom got up the ladder to the point where she had to step off the ladder onto roof, which took some manuevering because the ladder was much higher than the roof. The chicken coop wasn't very high, maybe 10 to 12 feet off the ground, but high enough that when Mom looked down, she froze and couldn't move. Unbeknownst to us, Mom was afraid of heights. Just getting on the ladder and climbing as high as she did took a lot of guts for her. Our chicken coop was on the edge of our hill overlooking a neighbor's house who was watching the whole thing, and as he put it, he was certain that only a cattle prod would move my mother off that ladder she was scared so stiff.
Eventually, Mom did get off the ladder. She also became a lot bigger in my eyes, as I realized that she had tried to help even though she was so scared. As I look back over the years, I can see how sometimes my mom was scared and worried about what life handed her, but she still found courage and moved forward.
I remember one time when Dad was gone for a couple of weeks on reserve duty. Mom was pregnant again, had four kids to take care of and a chocolate brown Jersey cow named Blossom who had to be milked twice a day. Mom was a little scared of Blossom, but managed to get her out of the pasture and up to our garage where the milking machine was set up, so that she could take care of the milking. Usually we would close the side door to the garage, open up the larger main door and Blossom would saunter into her corner of the garage with no problems for her appointed milking. However on this particular ocassion, that cow had a different idea.
Mom was walking Blossom up to the garage when Blossom headed for the open side door. Mom tried to stop her from going through and somehow ended up trapped against the door jam, while Blossom squeezed her girth through that door and into the garage--think of the biblical analogy of a camel through the eye of a needle and you'll have the right idea. I don't know how Mom didn't lose the baby from being squeezed that tightly or how she mustered up the courage to finish that milking. My brothers were out there helping, I'm sure. Somehow Mom managed to find her courage and move forward again.
Mom even managed to overcome her fear of heights and go rock climbing. I can remember standing at the bottom of the cliff face in Boulder, Colorado looking up at Mom, and helping to encourage her as she carefully picked her way to the top. I remember being so proud of her for being so brave. We had a lot of fun on those climbing trips--the family that climbs stay together stays together. Mom showed herself and her family that she could do things that scared her and make it to the top.
Mom does this a lot. She stood up for my younger brother after the school bus driver called him a really bad name, scheduling a meeting between herself, the principal and the driver to discuss the situation and demand an apology. She went on a week long camping trip to the Teton Mountains with me in my teens, even though she was really sick and had to bring her own food for the diet she had to be on. She let the Navy recruiter know just how displeased she was that I was joining the Navy Reserve and heading off to bootcamp where I would be yelled at and disciplined in that very special way in which only drill instructors are capable. She raised six kids as as stay at home and had four teenagers all in one go. She got on a plane to London all by herself to come visit me, because she didn't want to let me down. After falling down a flight of stairs, being a total invalid for several weeks and requiring not one, but two surgeries to repair the damages, she did lots and lots of very painful physical therapy and is now well on her way to a full recovery.
All these things and more represent the courage of my mother to me. Even when she's stuck and afraid, somehow she finds the courage to move forward and get the job done. I hope I'm like her in that way.
P.S. She's one of my heroes, and I love it when she puts teddy grahams in my care packages.