I believe that beyond providing internal sustenance, hope is an external force. Growing up in a large family supported by a single mother, the idea of hope was taught to me on a daily basis. More often than not, it was the hope of avoiding an unpleasant situation. The hope that some money would come in before the electricity was disconnected. The hope that one of us kids wouldn’t break a bone or get sick enough to demand a visit to the doctor. The hope that the flyer stuck on the windshield to hide the expired tags wouldn’t come off as a policeman drove by. In a way, my mother was teaching me the idea of hope before I was old enough to learn it.
I was born with a deformity, clubbed feet, that required surgery and years of physical rehabilitation before I would be able to walk. Being a newborn, I was oblivious to all of this. My father was still around at that time, and although I don’t know the details, my parents managed to have me placed under the care of a charitable hospital. So, luckily, how to pay for the medical expenses wasn’t an issue. But even with the best care, no doctor could promise my mother that I would be able to run and play like my older brothers and sisters. My Achilles tendons were cut to lengthen them, and I wore casts on my legs for several months in an effort to reshape the feet as I grew. Later, I wore a brace that consisted of a pair of shoes turned awkwardly outward with a metal bar running between them to hold them in place. By the time I started kindergarten, I was walking just fine with only a hint of being pigeon-toed.
I remember being six or seven years old, running down a soccer field at the local YMCA. I heard parents screaming on the sideline, so I looked to over to find my mom. When I spotted her, she wasn’t shouting and clapping like the others, only sitting on the wooden bleachers smiling. It was many years later when I realized what that smile was about. It was the culmination of endless nights spent soothing her baby to sleep despite the painful casts. The culmination of worrisome days fearing my treatments wouldn’t work. The culmination of years hoping.
Today I thank all of the doctors and nurses who did their part to help me walk. But more than them, I thank my mother for never giving up her hope.
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