My mother inspires me to this very moment because of the undying support she gave me throughout her life. She always encouraged me to pursue my creative dreams, no matter how farfetched. The best example of this happened several years ago, when I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend a month at my parents' house in rural Wisconsin to do nothing but write. Having the love and encouragement of my mother and father alone is worth retelling, however, I would not have been legally able to make the trip north without the help of my mom.
Since I had been living in New York for many years and had no use for driving, my license had expired. Due to various state regulations, renewing my Illinois license would be the easiest way to get back on the road. I still received enough junk mail at my parents' home to prove that I remained an Illinois resident—or so I thought.
My mom drove me to the DMV in Libertyville, as if I were still in high school. There was something nostalgic and comforting about her driving me, despite the fact she was never a very good driver. But she always made things exciting. I will never forget her driving me along the same route almost 20 years earlier to high school during a heavy snowstorm. She was not yet 50, even then she drove like an old lady. Hands at 3 and 9, peering just over the dashboard. Of course I was buckled in, as any sane person would have been, but there was a sense of confidence that it would all work out because Mom was at the wheel. If ever I take a few moments and consider that moment, it is not long until that same feeling returns like one of her quilts covering my entire body during a Sunday afternoon nap. Sure enough, as we approached a turn, the car began to slide in a slow, yet deliberate 360 degree turn. As the car slowly spun, I recall sharing a moment with her as if we were not in a car skidding to certain death, but rather we were on some carousel. Time slowed and the car spun completely around, miraculously coming to rest safely in the turn lane. Just as she planned, I’m sure.
Fast forward 20 years later and there we are at the front desk of the Illinois DMV. I forget my appearance at the time, but by the clerk's response to my request, I did not look like I was from around these parts. I said that I’d like to renew my Illinois driver's license. To prove that I was a resident, I had an offer for a high interest rate credit card dated five years earlier along with some random bank statements of accounts that had probably been closed. Just as the state employee was about to turn me around and send me searching for more forms and documents, he caught sight of my mother, standing just behind me. I don't think it was the fact that her fresh sneakers matched her brand new track pants, but you never know. What I do know is that she looked like a woman who was not to be messed with. If anyone denied her son, she was going to f*** them up. Seeing her there, feeling her there, gave me the feeling that probably causes people to believe in god. There was no denying me at that point. She was undeniable. As she is, to this day.
The DMV clerk stopped mid-sentence and waved me to Line 4 where I renewed my license, which allowed me to enjoy one of the most profound months of my life—second only to the one I spent with my mom and dad just before she passed away.
It is almost frightening how close she can be when I choose to think about her.