In my mother’s eyes, I can do anything. I’m strong, courageous, smart, and determined.
Mom tells tales of an intrepid child who was bold and daring. That child rarely took no for an answer. Any problem or obstacle she faced was merely a puzzle she would study until she found the solution. These traits were both good and bad depending upon the circumstances in which she used them. You see, this little girl boldly explored her world (outside her yard) and her neighborhood and when one considers her neighborhood was in the middle of Washington DC, it’s a wonder her mom survived her child’s frequent and unexpected explorations. To be fair to the parents, the house and yard, where Sia lived, was totally fenced in with a tall fence and gate a tricky latch (which she couldn’t reach) which would shut once you went through it. It was easy to get locked out of her yard. What was a girl to do? She sat on the top of the steps—her mother says there were 25 concrete steps from the back gate down into the alley—and looked at her world. And then…well, she saw a cat. And that was, as they say, that. Sia loved cats and all things four legged and furry.
At that point, great care was taken to be sure there was nothing around for Sia to use to unlatch the gate. But of course, it then became a puzzle to solve. It didn’t take long to find a mop sitting outside the back door and figure out how to use to reach up and unlatch the gate. The mop handle then was very handy and could be used to not only open the gate but block the gate from shutting. There were cats to visit you see and most times she could sneak back in the yard with no one the wiser.
The cat was a contributing factor for Sia’s nickname, Houdini or ‘Dini for short because once seen it couldn’t be forgotten and where there was one furry being surely there had to be more. There were people in the neighborhood Mom and Dad didn’t know but they knew Sia and she knew them especially if they had animals.
The school across the street knew Sia, as well, because she visited whenever her mother wasn’t looking or was involved with feeding or bathing the baby brother. She wanted to play with the kids on the playground or go into the classroom with them. After a few time of that sort of escape the mop was kept in the house in a closet.
Then there was the day Sia saw the school buses dropping off kids across the street and they were laughing and playing on the playground. There was also a broom leaning against the wall in the kitchen…
Sia was able to spend a couple of blissful hours in the classroom learning about Washington DC and the stories behind Washington Monument, which she had visited with her parents the summer before. Sia had a great time drawing stories about her visit. About the time her hysterical mother, baby in her arms, was canvassing the neighbors the teacher realized she had an extra child in her classroom.
The principal knew Sia, too, and was able to reunite mother and daughter. Ohhh, did Sia get into major trouble with her mom and then when her dad got home…ouch.
After that there was a lock put on the gate. Another puzzle but that’s a story for another day.
Since my diagnosis, I've been trying to visit my mom each week and we speak by phone several times a week. She lives an hour away from me. This past week my older sister and I visited mom who is living with my brother now. She shared adventures of young Sia and there was lots of laughter and good natured ribbing from my sibs. Times like this fortify my strength and fighting spirit and that’s always good.
Mom told me she was very proud of my attitude and determination in this battle. She reminded me that I’ve always had “enormous inner strength.” That made me snort in derision.
“I appreciate hearing that mom, but I gotta tell ya, lately I’ve been feeling more like a weeny with all this."
She patted my hand and smiled. "You're entitled. But honey, I KNOW you. You're going to throw those shoulders back and lift that chin of yours and walk right through the weeny and fear. You're one of the strongest people I've ever known."
In my mother’s eyes I’m still strong, courageous, smart, and determined.
Some days I believe her.