I do know that she'd understand my love of photography. My mother was a self-taught excellent photographer. I really love knowing that somehow her love of photography was passed onto me. For that reason, I will put some of my favorite photos from the past year in this post, even if they don't always fit with the story.
Most of all, my mother taught me to fight with determination for what was important to me. For example, I loved all sports but my community didn't have many organized sports for young girls. I watched with envy when the boys joined Little League every year. I played pick-up baseball with them on the playgrounds, and I knew I was a better player than many of them.
Then, the Supreme Court made it law that girls had to be allowed the same opportunities in sport as boys. It happened in the last year that I was young enough for Little League. I felt scared to try to claim my new right to play baseball but my mother wouldn't let me back away from the opportunity out of fear. We went to the Little League sign-up table, and the father volunteering behind the table said "no girls allowed".
My mother had brought a copy of the Supreme Court decision and plonked on the table in front of the poor confused volunteer. She told him that times had changed, and he was required to let me join. By the end of that discussion, I was the first and only girl in our Little League.
Before the first day of practice, I wanted to cut my waist-length long hair so it would be less obvious that I was a girl. I knew I was going to be teased and ostracized. At that age, being different always attracted bullies. My mother talked me out of cutting my hair - telling me to wear my long hair with pride. She wanted me to realize that I was blazing a path for younger girls.
It turned out that I adored playing organized baseball so my mother was right to encourage me. At first, the coach assumed I wasn't a good player. He kept me on the bench a lot. Then, our team's 2nd baseman got hurt. The coach pointed at me and sent me in the game. Second base was the perfect position for me, and I ended up as the All-Star team's 2nd baseperson at the end of the season.
The absolute best part was how the boys on my team stuck up for me. The parents from other teams would yell awful things at me, about how I was just a wussy girl who didn't belong on the field. They'd tell their sons to pitch underhand to me because I was "just a girl".
Any opponent who messed with me by pitching underhand or intentionally beaning me with pitches faced my teammates' wrath. I don't usually like fighting - but it felt amazing when the boys on my team stuck up for me. They'd accepted me as a teammate.
This essay was about my mother... and the whole Little League episode would never have happened without my mother standing behind me and teaching me to have the courage to do what I loved. That lesson has never left me.
That lesson is a big part of why I live my life on my own terms now. I do what I love even though it's not a conventional life. I track bears and visit their dens. I love going into cougar territory and trying to get trail camera photos of them. I adore riding my snowbike and exploring every inch of the forest around me with my canine best friend beside me.
I think that all of those things would be surprising to my mother based on the girl she knew when she died. At that time, I'd only lived a suburban/urban life so I hadn't yet discovered the mountain life that I love so much. However, I had absorbed my mother's lesson that I should do what I love so perhaps it wouldn't be so surprising to her.
|A yearling cub outside the den in 2010|