It is said that we are shaped by our earliest experiences. This came to light for me years ago as I was writing a bio for a masters degree program that I chose not to pursue. I was meditating on my young years and I realized that my childhood memory of falling 17 feet from my bedroom window shaped how I deal with my failures and other difficult times.

For those of you who don't know the story, I opened my bedroom window, in a fit of the anger of a five year old in the middle of a temper tantrum, and leaned against the screen in the process. Out I fell to the ground below. I got up (no, this was not my idea nor my mother's) and walked to the car in order to go to the hospital. The message, I realized decades later, is that 'no matter how far you fall, you get up and walk'.

And so just this past week, I was talking with my mom about strong ankles. Don't ask me how we got there. Wait, I think we got there as part of a conversation about the Rheumatic Fever that she had as a young girl. That debilitating illness caused weakness in her ankles and, as you might imagine, she spent some time tripping over her feet. My grandmother, in her motherly way, drew my mom's attention to her frequent tripping.

And so how did she deal with that? She taught herself how to walk. She walked the halls of her small house over and over, carefully and deliberately, picking up her feet so that she could walk without tripping. She pointed out how some of us become motivated and encouraged to correct themselves in the midst of criticism and how others of us become discouraged. I think we know where she falls.

As I am here in my home town dealing with the intrusive presence of her cancer, I am reminded of more and more of my early experiences. And while I can confidently say that no matter what happens, I will get up and walk, I can't say that I won't trip. Not to worry - I've already begun practicing. Thanks, Mom!

This is my mom's 1st grade picture - can you just see the determination?

Here she is again at 8.

Strong and steady at 15. I think she must have been practicing for a while by now.

Prom night. Look at those muscles. Her nickname? Mighty Mouse!

p.s. If you would like to track my mom's progress through her illness, you can register on In the meantime, I'm thrilled to tell you that she responded to her first round of chemo and the cancer indicators went down.

To borrow my sister Joanna's phrase: Cancer:0 Mom:1

1 comment:

  1. Kris, What a wonderful story. I will keep your mother in my prayers.