26: Silver Linings

26: Silver Linings

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Silver Linings

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

~Dr. Wayne Dyer

The summer I turned sixteen, I had surgery on both of my feet. It was my first surgery, my first experience with anesthesia, and the first time I would lose my mobility. I would be in casts for two and a half months.

Mom, however, could always be relied on for optimism. “Find the silver lining,” she’d say. “There’s always a silver lining somewhere, no matter how bad the situation gets.”

After about a week of that motto I finally snapped and asked her what, exactly, the silver lining of my situation was. Mom didn’t even have to hesitate before she said, “Once your feet heal, you’ll be able to walk better. You’ll learn new hobbies this summer that you wouldn’t be able to do if you were out riding your bike.”

Mom had to help me with the most mundane tasks for the first few weeks after the surgery. Movement exhausted me. Mom helped me brush my hair, go up and down the stairs, get to the bathroom, and even bathe. “Where’s the silver lining?” I asked her. “I can’t even brush my hair by myself!”

“I’m here to do this for you, and I don’t mind,” she replied calmly. “The silver lining is that you have a mother who loves to help you.”

I grew restless inside the house and Mom offered to take me on walks in the wheelchair. We enjoyed going out after dinner to watch the sunset. As we watched the sky turn from blue to pink to purple, Mom would smile and say, “This is a silver lining: I get to spend this time with you.”

When the casts came off but the pain didn’t go away, and I couldn’t walk any better than I had before, we learned that I had complex regional pain syndrome. The full impact of the situation didn’t hit us until a while later, and that was the first time I remember seeing Mom hesitate. She remained steadfast, though. “There’s a silver lining,” she promised me. “We just haven’t found it yet.”

As my walking grew worse and I became more reliant on Mom to help me go to the grocery store, the bank, or the post office, she used to say, “I’m so glad that I’m able to help you with this. Remember; this is a silver lining.”

This went on for several years.

Eventually, I had to give up my career as a chef because I couldn’t handle the physical demands of the job. “What’s the silver lining now, Mom?” I asked. “I don’t know what to do.”

“Now you’ll get to choose a different career, and start fresh,” Mom replied. “There’s always a silver lining.”

When I became an editor and told her I was going to write a book about invisible disabilities, Mom was ready, as always, to be optimistic.

“See?” she said with a smile. “There’s your silver lining.”

It took a long time, but eventually I learned that there was a common denominator in all of Mom’s silver linings. She was right — they were always there. But she was the one who always found them, because so many of them had to do with her very presence. Now, thanks to her, I can find them myself most of the time. And I know that the biggest silver lining of all, no matter what happens, is her — my mom.

~Amy Anderson

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