Sunday, May 08, 2005

Traffic Love

"I'd be willing to step out in front of traffic for you." This has come to be somewhat of a cliché in today's pop culture -- a way of saying that someone is really committed to you, really looking out for you, really loving you and caring for you. If someone is willing to put themselves in harm's way to shield someone else, well... there can be practically no greater demonstration of loyalty. If someone says, "I'd be willing to step out in front of traffic for you," that is serious love. Traffic love.

Well, I don't know if I've ever heard those exact words come from her mouth, but I know this sentiment to be true of my mother. I know because she actually did it.

My memory of the event is faded, like an old photograph where the colors aren't exactly right and the images are slightly blurred. Yet I remember the day that my Mom stepped out in front of traffic for me. It was a bright day in Lancaster. I suppose I must have been about four years old, because my sister was still just a baby. Mom had taken my brother and me shopping with her, down to the old Ben Franklin store downtown, just across from the courthouse. As we made our way out from Ben Franklin and across the sidewalk, I remember the sky being bright white. I flinched from the white Wisconsin sun... And I guess the driver must have flinched, too, because he certainly didn't see us.

Tall and graceful, my Mom held my hand on the one side, my brother's on the other, as we stepped down from the curb and onto street level. Yet no sooner had we set foot on the mottled black asphalt than were we forcibly jolted back to the curb. My brother and I fell hard to the pavement, back away from the behemoth car that was pushing against my Mom. Like some kind of superhero fighting to stop a speeding train, Mom strained against the massive automobile. Powered by the adrenaline of a protective mother, she pushed back the car until her ankle simply gave way.

Thanks to my Mom's instinct and action, we all survived the experience... one of those experiences that burns its way into your consciousness for all time. Yet oddly, I have no audio memory from that day. No shouts of pain or anguish. No crunches of bones or tendons breaking. No blubbering from me or my scared little brother. No words of comfort from strangers or paramedics. My memory consists solely of video and freeze-frame images. I remember motion and commotion. I remember the sad and scared look on my brother's face (which was surely mirrored in mine). I remember returning home to my Dad. I remember seeing the cast on my Mom's leg... And above all, I remember the fact that my Mom stepped out in front of traffic for me...

To this day, my Mom's ankle pains her. I hear that she was a good waterskier in her day, but I don't believe I've ever seen her do it. When my aunts and uncles and second-cousins were out skiing on the lake during a family reunion, my Mom had to sit out -- which worked well for giving us kids someone to cling to on the motorboat as it roared through cool wet spray on steep sharp turns, but which paralyzed her to a sideline role. Yet I rarely heard her complain. I don't believe I've ever seen her embittered. That fall, as she wheeled her way around the small house amongst small children, she simply chose to continue with the task of mothering. She sewed us amazing Halloween costumes. She read us stories. She watched us run and play on healthy young ankles that had been purchased through her sacrifice.

And when I think of this event, I understand more fully the love of a mother. A selfless love. A sacrificial love; one that does not boast or take pride. A love that stores no anger or bitterness, keeps no record of wrongs; one that always protects and always perseveres. Indeed, the love of a mother is an incredible thing, for which I am truly grateful... Traffic love.


At 2:24 PM, Blogger Todd said...


great mother's day story. You are an excellent writer, very vivid and imaginative.

Keep it coming.


At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Mom said...

Wow-I am nearly speechless with honor at your recounting that story from so many years ago. I am so privileged to be your mom and am so proud of you!!

At 11:32 PM, Blogger Will said...

That is amazing, sounds like your mom knows about this kind of love:
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Bret said...

This is a great story Eric. Thanks for sharing...

At 12:19 AM, Anonymous Bird said...

I have less remembrance of the event, but I think the car was blue (at least it is in my memory). I can easily recall, however, this wonderful woman you're talking about. I second everything you said. I love you Mom!


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