As a child, I thought my Mom was the smartest person in the world. I loved looking at pictures and hearing stories of when she was little. As a teenager, that turned into mostly eye rolling. Everything she said and did embarrassed me, or bugged me, or both. Teenagers are fun like that.
Growing up, my Mom took ballet, loved swimming and gymnastics, and was a cheerleader. Add all of this to the equation, plus a trip to Florida with her family when she was nineteen, and it all fell perfectly in place.
Years and years ago, Weeki Wachee Florida was known for its mermaid show - a performance of choreographed ballet and stunts, (and access to breathing tubes) all underwater. My Mom watched the show and fell in love. When she spoke with one of the mermaids after the show, she was told she could try out right then and there – but my Mom was with her family, and they were leaving the next day, and so she didn’t. And this is something she’s never forgotten, and for some reason, neither did I.
Recently, I got to cross two things off my list - the list of forty things to accomplish in my forties. I auditioned for a play, and, I got a part. As a zombie. No, it wasn’t a lead character, or the star in the show, but I did what I set out to do. And I did it full out zombie style, if you know what I mean. Somewhere in the mix, I found myself in charge of a group of high school drama students.
Bianca was one of the students who volunteered as a zombie extra. She was quiet, well behaved, and painfully shy. It reminded me of when I was in high school, when there was always that one person that was so withdrawn, or timid, (or something) and you just felt like you wanted to help or protect them, but you didn’t really know how.
There were two groups of zombies – the ones that walked by the window at the back of the stage, or the ones that walked through the audience. Bianca only wanted to walk by the window. Done deal.
One night, Bianca asked if she could walk through the audience because her Mom and brother were there, but when it was time, she quickly changed her mind. She told me she didn’t think she could do it. “What if I go first and you walk right behind me?” I asked her. She looked at me, and with fear and hesitation in her voice said “Okay, because I think if I don’t, I’ll regret it later.”
For just a minute, I was fifteen again. And twenty three. And thirty two. And every age I ever was when I didn’t do something for whatever reason. And I remembered. And I thought of a conversation I had with my Mom just a few months prior. I smiled at Bianca, and how true her words were, and I told her “You’re right, you will.”
So we walked through the audience together. And when we finished, I turned to give her a double high five. She smiled, and gushed, and said “I did it!” and I felt my heart smile along with my face.
Sometimes, I don’t always feel like an adult. I know I am, but it doesn’t always feel that way. I don’t always make the right choices, or know how to handle things. I don’t always know the right thing to say, or the right thing to do. I really wish I did, but the truth is, I don’t. Not too long ago, this is exactly where I found myself. And so I called my Mom. Her answer was simple. “You need to do this, because if you don’t, you’ll regret you didn’t when you had the chance.”
My Mom was right. Sometimes there just isn’t the perfect time, or the perfect circumstances, or the perfect reasons. Sometimes, it just ‘is’. And in that very moment, I am once again a little girl, and my Mom knows everything – because she is the smartest person in the world. And, the most beautiful mermaid.