My granddaughter, Abigail, discovered a tooth in a small bag with her name and a date written on the front. I had cleaned out a cabinet earlier in the day and set it aside to put in her memory box. Abigail had stumbled upon my treasure. I had to think quick! How does a grandmother explain the tooth fairy’s possession sitting among her belongings? I remembered an incident that occurred years earlier and found my story.
A sweet little tooth was knocked out when a two-year-old Abigail raced into a bed post. I explained to this six-year-old child, “The tooth fairy doesn’t take a tooth that didn’t come out naturally.” Natural is important. Abigail begged to differ with me. She put the tooth under her pillow that night. Of course, the tooth fairy came. This experience got me thinking about the second chances we might discover in life. If we look back over our past, we might find old bits and pieces of ourselves that we could tuck into our current life to give us pleasure and a richer future.
“We don’t get unlimited chances to have the things that we want, and this I know. Nothing is worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed your life.” Addison Montgomery in Grey’s Anatomy
My past can be a painful place to explore. My mother had three children before I came along in her 28th year. I was a difficult breech birth with multiple health issues. After a seizure at 8 months of age, my mother was told to keep me calm at all times. Motherhood is stressful enough without your baby’s life depending on keeping her happy. I was a great challenge to an already overwhelmed woman. My mother and I survived those first years, but I believe it was the beginning of a distant relationship. She continued to interact with me carefully from a safe distance. My introverted nature was comfortable with the distance, but my heart was always a bit sad. I moved out of her home at the age of 15 and finished high school while living with my father. I spoke to my mother on the phone occasionally, exchanged letters from time to time, and saw her once or twice a year at family gatherings.
As I hit my mid 30’s, my mother’s health began to fail. I stepped forward to help. We lived in different states so my assistance involved checking off a to-do list when I visited once or twice a year. Siblings did the same. As her living arrangement changed and her health continued to decline, I became more involved. The once or twice a year visit became a quarterly visit to take her for doctor appointments. I stayed several days with each trip. We enjoyed our conversations while cleaning her house and getting her stocked up on groceries. When her health further declined, she moved closer to me. I can honestly say I never thought I’d be my mothers caretaker. I assumed she’d land near my sisters when the time came. It proved to be such a blessing to my children and myself. My mother had the chance to know the adult I had become. I healed childhood wounds as I grew to understand who she was. My children laughed and learned from a grandmother who loved them dearly.
A year ago, my mother had a stroke. I spent 9 days by her side. We talked as much as she was able. Her mind seemed focused on two topics: the farmhouse I was renovating and writing a blog. As a child, I shared my mother’s love for little white farmhouses and writing. She built her tiny dream house and wrote a book. I lived in the city and pursued a career in nursing. My mother encouraged me to reach back and find those tucked away dreams. In her final days, she made me promise to pursue them. I’m so thankful for the 17 years we had. I will always cherish those final moments. I am grateful for a second chance at the opportunity to be a good daughter, a creative writer, and a farmhouse dweller.
People say you shouldn’t look back, but what if you left something valuable there? Could there be pieces of the past that add value to your future? Find the remnants of who you might have been and give yourself a second chance at the opportunity to live your dream.