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For the record, I hate to fly. I mean, I’m a bad flyer. Not so good
when you choose a second career where travel is often required! I am a
white knuckled, seat rest clenching, excited inhales during turbulence
flyer, and yes, I’m someone who has abused the flight attendant call
button. I have sat, tears streaming down my face during landing,
clutching a photo of my children and reciting the Hail Mary while
simultaneously shrieking that, “I will never fly again!”

So, it only makes sense that on more than one occasion, I have found myself
mentally writing my own obituary while enduring another bout of
turbulence somewhere over Arizona. Morbid, I know. But, it’s become a
necessary therapy for me to keep calm. A Bloody Mary or two helps me be
more creative, I’ll admit, but visualizing how I want my loved ones,
especially my children, to remember me, has helped me down from the
ledge more than once. Airlines take note, I think that Valium
dispensers in airplane bathrooms are a very sound idea!

Okay, so back to my epitaph.

To begin, one must know that I was adopted at birth. Although my
birth mother was only 17, she was mature enough to know that she
couldn’t raise a child on her own. I’m thankful to her for seeing me as
a child and not a choice. I am also thankful to my parents who have
given me every opportunity to take the life she gave me and use it for
good. People often ask me where my drive comes from. Now you know. I
am not going to waste the life I was gifted. Yes, my life is a gift.
There are days I don’t want to get out of bed. Days I don’t want to do
the laundry or argue with my kids about the importance of good oral
hygiene (try explaining that to a 3-year old).

But I do. I do it because there are others who were never given the
opportunity to try. I have hundreds of photos of my parents. They are
beautiful people. My mother is a picture of dignity and grace. The mental
snapshots are the best, however. My father is a physician, and I remember
watching my mother get ready to attend benefits for the hospital. Not many women
wear St. John better than my mother. She is a lithe woman, barely over 5
feet and 100 lbs. soaking wet. The jersey material clung so well to
her body, moving with her, never wearing her. My mother isn’t a fancy
woman by nature, but she knows how to turn it on. I would watch her sit
at her dressing room table and apply her makeup, than her jewelry and
finally, the dress and shoes.

I love my mother very much. I am so grateful for the relationship she and I share.
There have been trials, tribulations and pitfalls. I still cringe when I think about
the time we fought over my being caught at the local movie theater with a boy,
and screaming, “I wish I was never adopted!” at the top of my lungs as I
slammed the car door. Ouch. Only as a parent do I now understand how
much those words must have stung. I have apologized since, more than
once, and I still wince at my memory of that scene.

But, she took me back and continues to do so. When I snap at her because
she reminds me “again” to take a coat or check the status of my flight. And I
take her back. When she comments that I look better with long hair right after I
have it cut, or when she mentions that lessening my carb intake could
help me drop a few pounds. That’s what mothers do. That’s what
daughters do. They love. They laugh. They fight. They cry. They
love again. Mostly importantly, they accept and celebrate one another,
warts and all.I want my life to matter. I want to count. I want to belong.

Growing up, I never felt that I truly belonged because I didn’t resemble anyone
in my family. Being adopted at birth, my parents knew very
little about my genetic background. I was a blonde haired, blue-eyed
misfit surrounded by a family of dark-haired, dark skinned and dark eyed
people. And I was tall. I was the second tallest in my class when I
was in first grade, despite being one of the youngest in my grade. The
pediatrician told my parents that if I continued to grow at that rate, I
would be well over 6-ft. The cat’s now out of the bag regarding why
I’m decent at so many sports. My parents enrolled me in everything.
They figured that if I was going to be an Amazon, I might as well be
good at sports. In the end I turned out a bit on the tall side at 5’8,
but nowhere near WNBA status.

One of my biggest fears is that I will die in a plane crash and that my
children will not remember me. I can’t imagine the impact that has
on a child. Others have said time and time again that you can be
replaced pretty much everywhere- your job, your charity your tennis
team. However, no one can replace you as a parent. Wow. That gives
you a lot to think about when you’re at 35, 0000 ft. I’ve written a
dozen letters to each of my children. On paper napkins. On barf bags
and the back of in flight magazines. None of them have ever made it off
the plane. I’m not completely sure why. I want my children to know
how fiercely I love them. I want them to know that every sacrifice I’ve
made for them I would make again in a heartbeat.

Somehow, however, putting it down on paper gives me a creepy feeling it
could happen.I am going to screw up a lot as a parent. I am going to miss an
important school function, forget to bake cookies, lose my temper when I
shouldn’t and be the “only” parent who won’t allow my 6-year old to
have an iphone (I’m sure!). At the end of it all, however, I hope my
children remember me as a doer. As someone who worked hard, played
hard, gave others a helping hand and laughed a lot, even when it might
have been a tad inappropriate. I want them to remember their mom as
someone who was present, involved and passionate. Opinionated. Tough.
Loving. Compassionate. Generous. Someone who said, “I love you” and
meant it. Principled. Human.

With my head bent into my hand, bear knuckles turning white, chugging
Finlandia Vodka and riding out the turbulence of yet another
traumatic landing, I have to admit, I will most likely never die in a
plane crash. Not because of the statistical probability or anything
like that. I just have way too much work to do! I still have a life to
live and a legacy to leave behind.

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