I was only 16 years old.
My brothers and I were picked up in the family van, a 1999 Ford Windstar that ran on unleaded fuel at 19 miles per gallon. It was the start of the recession and gas wasn’t cheap. Curly hair and square frames outline her darker, chestnut skin as she waits for us to leave the seven-hour prison we knew as high school. She had been up all night working as a receptionist and was nerve-wracked. Her badge hung from the rearview mirror reading her name and an older employee photograph.
Lisa is dim of Elizabeth.
It is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Elisheba, meaning “God is satisfaction” or another variation is “my God is an oath.”
As she drives home, her demeanor slowly rids her mind of the voices of bothersome customers requesting special flying privileges. Their squabbling is relinquished as she sings, “say the name of Jesus, say the name of Jesus, say the name so precious, there is no other name I know …”
At age 5 I recall jumping in a pool after my brother Steven’s suggestion that if I wanted to swim it is the best way to learn. As I began to sink to the bottom, reaching out my hand to the sky in hope someone would see, my mom stretched hers to ensure I wasn’t drowning that day.
For my cousin’s birthday sleepover, when I felt out of my element, I called her to come rescue me from my social accusers. She found me in Victoria’s Secret wondering my distress as I rushed into her arms for comfort and refuge.
These are the chronicles of my Lisa’s motherhood: protecting, providing, loving, nurturing, encouraging and driving my brothers and me a little crazy.
I remember when I first began driving. The far right side of left lane, close to the barriers, was my favorite spot to ease distress of the center lanes’ dotted lines. When I got 1 inch too close to the barrier stripe, exhausted mother would scream and strike the passenger door, “If you don’t get off this white line!”
As she got older she would claim which gray strand was caused by my brothers or me, but I would contemplate perhaps it was from her consistent yelling. Going on vacation as a teen was also bothersome, especially when aging parents wanted to sleep for three days to recover from jetlag and they had the room key.
And she loved to say, “I told you so.” Sometimes I was wary to tell her anything at risk of hearing that phrase.
I remember an unfortunate time when seeking Christ wasn’t really on my agenda and each time I’d done something bad, her face would pop up. When I told her I wanted to change, she didn’t say “I told you so.” She was only grateful her prayers paid off.
My family is like a fist. The five of us were always together, doing every thing with one another. That was until I decided to leave home to focus on my career. That decision didn’t go over too well. But with resilience and humility, my parents eventually accepted.
For Mother’s Day, I would always try to get my mom something nice from Bath and Body Works or some jewelry. Most recently, I got her a massage from Massage Green Spa, which she freaked out about beforehand because some stranger was touching her body; in the end she got over it.
Ultimately, I have had the privilege of knowing her in her strengths and weaknesses, understanding her by her faults and triumphs and esteeming her from her past struggles and present accomplishments.
When Lisa reads this, I don’t know what she will say or how she will feel, but I hope she will let me breathe if she hugs me. Lisa is “my God is an oath.”
It is the name of my mother, who has made an oath to be the best mom she can.