My Inspiration

My Inspiration

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

My Inspiration

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I wake up at seven, I head downstairs to find my mom sitting in her usual spot on the couch with the television tuned to the same station it has been every other morning for as long as I can remember—QVC. My mom, usually enthralled in some new outfit from Sport Savvy or an exquisite piece of Diamonique jewelry, listens intently to the detailed descriptions of the item being displayed, determining whether or not she should make yet another purchase.

“Is that something I would wear?” she asks me.

“I don’t know... I guess,” I say, with a disgusted tone in my voice.

“Michelle, don’t get annoyed with me.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

I sometimes forget that my mom cannot see. My mom is legally blind, and has been for my entire life. She was born with a disorder called retinitis pigmentosa, a disorder that has impaired her vision since the day she was born. Often forgetting that she lacks sight, I become easily frustrated when she asks me simple questions. It isn’t until the hateful words come spilling out of my mouth that I realize what I’ve just said, wishing I could take it back.

I know the lack of understanding I so often display is a result of the deep resentment I carry within. Not resentment toward my mom, but resentment toward God. I resent him for depriving my mom of her sight. However, this tragedy has only made my mother stronger than any woman I know, and her strength is one of the many reasons I love her and admire her so dearly.

I tease my mom all the time about her “QVC addiction.” Every day (literally) a new package arrives at our doorstep, unmistakable with its bright yellow and red QVC wrapping; the UPS man must know the route to our house by heart. My mom will be wearing a new ensemble or using a fancy gadget in the kitchen, and before she tells me where she bought it, I just say, “Let me guess, QVC?” Still, I have realized that QVC is my mom’s way of “going shopping.” Where she has to depend on others to take her to a mall, QVC brings the mall to her.

My dad, my sister and I do as much for my mom as we can, when we can. However, her constant dependency on the three of us can be challenging. I have always served as my mother’s eyes, doing for her what she could not do for herself. When I was younger, I would assist her with the small things, such as sorting laundry or reading recipes when she cooked. As I grew older, the tasks grew larger. Life became easier for my mom when I turned sixteen and could drive. I happily offered to do the grocery shopping and any other errands my mom could never do when my dad was at work.

I would be lying if I said having a blind mother didn’t make my life somewhat different from my friends. I didn’t have a mom who could take me to the mall, or a mom who let me play hooky from school one day just so she could take me to lunch. I don’t think about it often, but at times I do realize that my mom has never actually seen me. When shopping for prom dresses in high school, I often had to hide the tears forming in my eyes as I looked around the dress boutique and saw other high school girls with their moms. “You look gorgeous!” and “Oh, how stunning!” I would hear throughout the shop. I wished I could hear those words from my mom. She would always feel the dresses I tried on, running her hands over the intricate patterns of gems and sequins. “I wish I could see how pretty you look right now,” she would say. I think about my wedding day and how my mother will not see me walking down the aisle in a gorgeous white dress, or how she will never see her grandchildren.

But growing up, she attended every soccer game, cheering me on from the sidelines. She sat contentedly through every dance recital, taking pride that I, her daughter, was up on that stage, even though she couldn’t see me. My mom has always been my biggest fan, and still supports me in all of my endeavors, having faith that I can pursue all of my dreams.

My mother’s life, with this physical challenge, has been anything but negative. She may be physically different from most people around her, but what really makes her different is her refusal to dwell on her blindness with regret. Instead, she sees her disability as a challenge given to her by God, one that compels her to live a normal, productive life. In my twenty-two years, she has never allowed her setbacks to bring her spirits down. My mom values what she does have in her life, rather than the one thing she is lacking—her vision.

My mom is my heroine, and although this is rather clichéd, she is the wind beneath my wings. She had bestowed a great deal of knowledge upon me over the years, but one piece of wisdom I carry with me to this day is her belief in the value of life. I remember coming home after an extensive day of hard work when I was in high school. In distress, I cried out, “Why are things always so stressful and complicated? I hate my life!” Overhearing my rage, my mother firmly replied, “Michelle, I choose to look more closely at what I am satisfied with in my life, rather than at the things I’m unhappy with.”

Whenever I face a difficult obstacle in life, I think of my mother’s wise words.

August Wilson once said:

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.

My mother’s fuel is blindness. It has empowered her to become the woman she is today.

~Michelle Anglin

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