Friday, August 29, 2014

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: Mom sees blessings even through life’s tragedies

By AMY NEWMARK, Chicken Soup for the Soul | 11/8/2013

Corrina Lawson’s mother always says she’s had a blessed life. Yes, she was widowed at 29 with three kids. Yes, she lost her second husband to a brain tumor. Yes, her back has hurt since she broke it in college. Yes, she’s diabetic. But she has three healthy children and eight grandchildren who love her. She’s had a good career. She has a home and great friends.

Corrina wrote a story about her mom for us called “Is Anybody Dead?” That’s what her mother wryly asks whenever a situation gets tough. It’s as if she’s saying, in very few words: Take it from me, things could be a lot worse.

Corrina Lawson’s mother always says she’s had a blessed life. Yes, she was widowed at 29 with three kids. Yes, she lost her second husband to a brain tumor. Yes, her back has hurt since she broke it in college. Yes, she’s diabetic. But she has three healthy children and eight grandchildren who love her. She’s had a good career. She has a home and great friends.

Corrina wrote a story about her mom for us called “Is Anybody Dead?” That’s what her mother wryly asks whenever a situation gets tough. It’s as if she’s saying, in very few words: Take it from me, things could be a lot worse.

Corrina faces her own challenges. She describes one of her children as having “special needs.” Through the years, her family has struggled to pay enormous medical bills. The anxiety from dealing with these problems can’t be underestimated, but Corrina draws on her mother’s resilience and sense of humor. Is anybody dead? No. So she moves forward, just as her mother always has.

Corrina points out that her mother has, of course, been affected by her hardships and losses. “She does feel the pain, very deeply,” Corrina says. “But it has never prevented her from living her life.” That’s why, just a few years after she was widowed, Corrina’s mother — single, young and still coping with the loss of her husband — took her three young kids to Disney World. At the end of the day, their rental car wouldn’t start. Stranded in the dark for hours in the days before cellphones, Corrina’s mother could have been forgiven a meltdown. Instead, she made up games for her children to keep them calm until help arrived.

For Corrina, the important thing that her mother gave her wasn’t a vacation or even a good home to live in. It was a model of grace and a lesson on perspective. Even in the face of serious challenges, she is able to focus on what makes her blessed. When people ask her how she stays positive, she says, “I learned from my mom.”

•••

In the many stories I read about parenting, I’m struck by how often fathers report feeling a distance from their daughters as soon as they begin to exit early childhood. Many fathers reconnect by sharing a joint activity or hobby with their daughters. R. Mike Bennett shares this kind of experience in his story “Cosmic Engineering” in our runners book.

His 8-year-old daughter Heather “was growing up, facing challenges I wasn’t really aware of,” he writes. “I didn’t really understand her anymore.” He’d read “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” Now, he says, “I began to wonder if children are from Pluto!”

Mike was on the lookout for something, anything, that could help him connect with Heather again. So, when Heather came home from school talking about “Bloomsday” practice, she had his attention. Bloomsday was a running race, Mike knew. He’d been a competitive runner long ago and a jogger for many years since. “I was in! I thought it would be a great way to spend some time together and share this positive hobby.”

They began training together. “I’ll always treasure those times. Running, walking and talking about the things on her mind gave me a much greater grasp of what things were like on Pluto.”

On the day of the race, Mike and Heather ran and walked the course together. It was crowded and slow going, but Mike didn’t care. “Truth be told, I wished it could go on forever.” At the finish, they received commemorative Bloomsday T-shirts, a major prize for Heather.

Heather is a senior in high school now, and she and Mike still jog together. They talk about calculus and college choices instead of the tribulations of an 8-year-old. And, sometimes, they share their memories of Bloomsday. “I thought it was pretty special just hanging out with my daddy,” Heather told Mike. Mike thought it was a special day, too. “We didn’t set any speed records,” he writes. “But still I think we did a little cosmic engineering — moving Mars and Pluto just a little closer to each other.”

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at www.chickensoup.com

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