Monday, April 14, 2014


While watching this video I started to realize where they were going with it pretty quickly. Still, when they got to the "punchline", I was hit with a ton of memories and a ton of emotions.

Some of you have read a little bit of my story in other posts here, and some of you have listened to me talk about my story at the end of classes or after class (thank you to those students who care to listen and inquire, by the way!). What you may not have gotten from those reads is that my mom is the single largest influence on me and what I do with my life now.

I watched my mom struggle for 9 years after losing her job at Chase Bank (formerly Bank One, formerly First Chicago Bank) in 2001. That was her first and ONLY job, she held that job for 35 years. That taught me that big companies do NOT care about their employees. It also taught me that I should not spend my entire life working for other people. My mom hardly ever took any vacations. In fact, I remember seeing photos of us going to Disneyland when I was very little, but aside from that I couldn't tell you a single time that she actually used any vacation time. She was not a greedy person by any means and did not seek a lavish lifestyle, but she worked so much because I believe it made her feel she had a purpose and because it helped her take care of us, her kids. She taught me not to take money too seriously. That a life spent in a Chase (get it? Chase...) after money is a life somewhat wasted. That all the money, toys, games, and other material things cannot replace time spent together and the memories made.

Her battle looking for a new job with no other experience and no schooling taught me that it was a good idea to be a "jack of all trades". She was a BIG worrier and it caused her a lot of stress - this taught me to try not to worry so much, even when things get bad. I learned a lot of things from my mom, even if not directly through her words.

A few years later my mom started having stomach pains and finally went in to have it checked after some time dealing with it. She was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and they originally told her that she had maybe 6 months to live. I thought she was stressed and worried before... this brought it to a whole new level.

Seeing her go through her treatments was hard. Once she started chemotherapy, she began to lose her hair and was often sick. I'd never seen my mom like this before and it was heart-wrenching. She worked at a Target store now, in Indiana where the minimum wage is lower than ours in Illinois. She went from a $60,000 salary position to making probably around $8 or less per hour as a cashier. This taught me that sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

My mom kept working all throughout her treatment. It became very difficult for her to stand at work all day, and moving around was difficult for her too. She kept going. She had to, or the insurance wouldn't help her pay for the treatments anymore. She talked about being tired and being in pain, but I don't recall her even once complaining that she had to be working.

The cancer spread throughout her body over time. Eventually she had to have an end colostomy. I remember she was terrified of the idea of this procedure and did not want to have it done. But she did. Again, teaching me that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do.

My mom died in June, 2010. She kept working as a cashier at Target up until about two weeks before she died. She lived for quite a bit longer than the 6 months they originally gave her.

This video reminded me of all the stuff that my siblings and I put my mom through while we were growing up. All the trouble we got into at school and out of school, all the arguments and fights we all had with her, all of the toys and videogames she spent money on when we were kids. The rides to work she gave us; always on time to pick us up after work and she'd usually end up waiting outside until we were done. The help she gave my sister and her husband while they were having troubled times of their own with two kids. I often wondered how and why she continued to put up with it all. She never gave up on us.

My mom taught me to help other people. There is a memory of her that always finds its way back into my mind from time to time. We (my mom, brother, and myself) were driving down a road next to the highway one summer, on a very hot day. Over the chain-link fence between us and the highway, she spotted a vehicle broken down with a group of people standing outside of it in the heat. My mom drove to the store, bought a cold pack of Pepsi bottles, turned around and drove back to get out of the car and hand them to those people over the fence.

She taught me to care, even if it seems like caring might not change anything.

Though my mom wasn't very active in her lifetime and was definitely not in any shape to do what I do now, I believe that my mom taught me how to live with the Art du Déplacement mindset. I often think of her when I am training. When we are doing tougher exercises (for instance, copious amounts of quadrupedal movement...) I find the strength to continue on by thinking about my mom finding the strength to go through what she had to go through. I have made some bigger, scarier jumps and gotten up some taller walls by telling myself that my mom is over/up there and that I need to save her.

I love you mom, and I miss you.