Happy New Year and welcome to 2016. I’m not much for New Year resolutions but I have given thought as to what I want to hold for this up-coming year. I’ve done extensive work on my story and how it has impacted my life. Most of that work has involved digging into the effects of my addiction (eating disorder) and the sexual abuse that occurred during my childhood.
Because of this I have ignored the goodness that was present during those years, in particular, with my mother. She has been absent in much of my story. It is not because she wasn’t present it is just that until recently I haven’t allowed my heart to engage with her presence in my early life. Yet, I’m realizing more than ever that she was there and she has influenced me today.
It is fascinating for me to remember the walk with my mom along the shores of Lake Michigan that has resonated in my heart for years. It is even more fascinating that I’ve never spoken about it. Yes, it happened on one day, and as a 13 year old it has a resting place in my heart that I’ve only just recognized is there.
My mom and I had an afternoon alone. We were on vacation and my dad and brothers were off somewhere else. There would be no competition for her attention or scrutiny over how we decided to spend our time. We chose to walk along the beach and into a nearby park. It wasn’t so much the location that made the difference for me but it was how my mom engaged me. As we began our walk she reached over and took my hand into hers. I felt such warmth and tenderness in holding her hand.
Her touch felt safe and spontaneous and it caused my heart to relax and lean into her presence.
I felt enjoyed and that somehow she understood all the angst my 13 year-old heart and body were holding. We shared much laughter over saying, “bread and butter” as we raised our arms in unison over the posts and bushes along the way. We never lost our connection. She held onto my hand tightly and accommodated for my smaller size.
It was a glorious day filled with sunshine, sea gulls and rolling waves. The beauty of the day was everywhere with the blue sky, the green beach grass and the sand warming our feet as we strolled along. She expressed her love of the lake, the land and the memories of her childhood growing up surrounded by the beauty of water and nature. I was getting a glimpse of the child in my mother who had been hidden to me until this day. She was playful. She was kind. She appreciated beauty. She was relaxed and so was I.
I can recount this walk like it was yesterday…and I am savoring the goodness of it today. I, too, am a lover of beauty, texture, color and touch. This all unfolded for me on that day. And I hold the memory of my mom in my heart as a daughter forever grateful for her.
There is always goodness mingled with difficulties that form the stories of our lives. God’s presence prevails in all of them. I’m choosing just one day of goodness to carry me into 2016. If I can pass on to my children and my grandchildren just a smidgen of a memory like the one with my mom, I will be truly thankful. It takes only one day to make a difference. I am hailing in the year with the goodness of this day.
Mary Jane Hamilton has grown to love her sense of style and her peaceful lake living. Mother of 2 and grandmother of 6, she has a wonderful capacity to love and is still active as The Tooth Fairy. She is extremely fond of her dachshunds, who rarely venture from her lap, and enjoys biking with her husband of 50 years. She is rekindling her writing skills and finding it life giving.