Family

Rock Steady: A Tribute

What do you get for a woman who has everything? Or perhaps more accurately, who often doesn’t know what she needs because she’s too busy advocating for grandkids at hospitals, cleaning dishes, ironing Band concert clothes, or cleaning under the fridge?

Well, she likes rocks.

I was purchasing recycling bags at our local city hall and happened to glance at an art exhibition they had hanging in the hallway. One of the artists used poured acrylic paint to create paintings that look like geodes.

Bingo.

That particular artist sells work for astronomical fees and the Feemsters have never invested in fine art. No, we prefer prints of SFA and canvas paintings lovingly crafted by family members or prints we found at Big Lots that say “Live, Laugh, Love”. We can’t start being uppity now so I came home and scoured the internet for more geode paintings. I finally found a print that had great colors and would look beautiful in a frame.

I showed it to The Kid and told him it was what we were getting Nana for Christmas. In his limited understanding of why adults need less and less as we get older, he balked. “Why?!”

“Well, she likes rocks…

and…”

My mom lends a steadiness to our family that, without it, we would fall all to pieces. I’m not sure how it happened but centered in the emotional, energetic tornado my dad, sister, and I create is my mom, her calm energy keeping us tethered, to one another and to the ground. I imagine her standing in the eye of the funnel cloud, eyes closed, arms outstretched, offering to make us food or give us a tight hug to calm us.

It’s no wonder she likes rocks.

She is our rock.

I cannot tell you how many times I have called my mom and sobbed over the phone, angry or heartbroken or stressed or frustrated. I cannot tell you how many times because I don’t know that numbers go that high. Whatever emotional distress I have to hurl at her, she knows just what to say to calm it. While the ebb and flow of life sometimes feels like waves crashing against me, threatening to whisk me out to sea never to be heard from again, I know that I can huddle against her steadiness and feel a little less vulnerable. The waves still come but she somehow innately knows how to lessen their blows. I know that I am not the only one to feel that way.

In truth, her steadiness is her greatest asset and her greatest weakness. We had a conversation the other day where she told me she was afraid of what was going to happen when she gets older because she doesn’t want us to have to take care of her. It’s too hard.

It was my turn to balk. “Why?!”

My sister and I have spent our entire lives studying the intricate details of my mother’s steadiness- every crevice of sympathy, every nook of well-placed outrage and cranny of well-timed wisdom. How could we have avoided not becoming intimately familiar with a steadiness that has kept us grounded our whole lives?

Someday, when mom’s steady nature is less steady, eroded by years of waves crashing against it, her hands weathered from wiping away our salty tears, then we will get to be the steady ones. And we’ll do it well because we learned from the best.

Eshet Chayil, our rock steady woman.

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