My mother, Margie - I've certainly put her through a lot, especially in these last four years:
Seemingly disappearing for 12 days in India because I didn't want to tell her where I was going...ya know, so she wouldn't worry
And probably the worst, taking off to Fiji while Grandma battled one mean bout of throat cancer
Mom has had a hard year, probably the hardest of her existence, watching her own mother deal with a fate arguably worse than death.
Losing the Matriarch
While I was lounging in a Delhi hotel room on the World Traveler Internship, Mom told me via Skype the dentist had found cancer under her tooth. As I literally watched shooting stars over Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania from my tent, Grandma Evelyn was being wheeled out of a surgery that tested the limits of human strength to recover from. And while Mom learned of her nearly certain fatal situation, she still supported my desire to go to Fiji and implement a humanitarian project.
Having been paired with my father since she was 15, I often wonder how it's possible for her to understand my desire and need to be alone, to travel the far corners of the world without anyone at my side, to be comfortable in near squalor altogether. It certainly wasn't an easy realization to come to, as I was firmly encouraged to correspond constantly on my Big Journey via Blackberry.
However, on this last trip to the South Pacific, my mother surprised me with her understanding of my desires, my abilities to survive completely out of her arm's reach, and my competency in dissolving extreme issues with differing minds. When Garrett returned early from Fiji, he had a long talk with my mom over the phone and reported back that even in the wake of our ridiculous stories, she knew I could handle myself and trusted I'd be okay (without even a hint of her normal "Ooohhh, Lindsaaaaay" sigh and stress-induced headache).
Whether she listened to history and assumed everything would turn out fine or our issues were relatively trivial in comparison to Grandma's, Mom proved to me that even though she'd rather I stay stateside and safe, she knows if I must pull my global stunts, I will...and it will be okay.
And what was most surprising from this shift was the timing of it all. Though I did plan the Fiji experience around what we thought would be Grandma's easiest battle through chemo and radiation, the status of her health and aggressive cancer affirmed the entire war would be a tough one to weather and even witness. Mom wanted me to be around for it all, even though Grandma (in her classic understating tone) told me it was fine to go and even miss her funeral (since she wouldn't be there to miss me anyway).
Grandma was selfless, and so is Mom, and I see this hereditary link now more than ever in the hindsight of this winter (thought not as if I didn't realize this before).
The Parental Support of a Nomad
I get a lot of messages from young travelers worried about their parents' impressions of their journeys, and they wonder, "How do your parents deal with you being alone and all over the place?" Though they're not dropkicking me out the front door (nicely, that is), my parents certainly have proven to be understanding of my insatiable and sometimes indescribable desire to move. Fear is always a factor, but as I continue to show more maturity in my reasons for travel, they continue to feel more comfortable with my choices, especially since I've managed to survive this long.
All kids make great stress inducers for their parents in some fashion, and those of us who like the road can certainly create extreme moments of fear on a daily basis. But the road to gaining understanding and support from a worried parent isn't very long at all.
My mom was actually the one who nudged me toward taking my Big Journey, against her own wishes to have me close by. She knew I wanted and needed the experience. She allowed me to be selfish and traipse around the Earth, while she woke up early to check and e-mail me the weather of my destination before I even arose.
On this Mother's Day, I wanted to say thank you, Mom, for understanding, even in the midst of your hardest hour. I think you'll fill the shoes of the Matriarch to the tippy toe.