My apologies to my readers! I do miss my blog and all of you and the catharsis I get from writing. But there have been lots of changes in my life of late, most of them positive. The biggest news is that I reached goal and became an employee of Weight Watchers. I'm currently in training and hope to be a leader by early next year.
WOW, is there a lot to learn. But I LOVE it. I get to interact with people in a really meaningful way; people who are having the same struggles I once had, people who need what others once gave me. I find it monumentally fulfilling. If you've been a reader for any length of time, you know how desperately I needed to feel fulfilled.
You may remember that mere days before she died, my Mom reached her 100lb goal and was beginning to think about becoming a leader herself. Even chronically ill, retirement and the sedentary lifestyle that inevitably accompanies it just wasn't her bag. She needed something to do. And she would have been GREAT at it.
It never fails to cross my mind at some point in each meeting that I work, that my Mom was really cheated and that I am now doing what she dreamt of. That makes me very sad, but also proud. She would have been thrilled for me. And I think she alone would have understood what it truly meant to me to find something to do that really matters.
But I found a way of honoring my Mom and including her in the journey that I thought was ending, but had really just begun. It's been a secret until now. Not even my husband knows. I'm going to share it with you now. Why? I don't know. I guess just because...it's time. I need people to know just how much a part of my success she has been and always will be.
Weight Watchers is big on recognition. It's what keeps people motivated. It might sound silly, but a little green "bravo" sticker can make your whole day when you're struggling. Weight Watchers also sets small goals; 5 and 10 percent, to get members started and help them feel less overwhelmed when they have a lot of weight to lose. When a members reaches their 10 percent goal they are awarded a keychain. Then they get a washer to go on the keychain for each 25lbs lost. They also award little charms for various other achievements along the way. My Mom had them all, except the lifetime key, which is the most coveted of all the charms. A member must stay at their goal weight for 6 weeks to get their lifetime status. My Mom only lived for one after reaching hers.
When she died we kept that keychain, of course. For both my sisters and me, it was a symbol of the courage, determination, and strength that my mother had always modelled for us. The middle child took posession of it, as she was at the beginning of her weight loss journey and wanted it as a talisman. I can't think of a more powerful one, at least for the three of us. Since I was near goal, I was happy to let her have it and really thought no more about it.
It took me a lot longer than I thought to actually reach my goal. My body simply refused to go below a certain point. Though I battled for nearly six months, I could not get beyond the 75 lb. mark. I could get the pounds off, but they would come right back, despite not changing my habits. It was maddening. Ultimately, I got a doctor's note that said I didn't need to lose the last 9lbs, because I was strong, healthy and sufficiently lean in my body composition.
To this day it puzzles me...many women that I weigh in are significantly larger than me, but weigh quite a bit less. And I'm told all the time that I don't look like I weigh what I do. Most people attribute this to the fact that I am very muscular. A pound is a pound of course, but muscle is much smaller and much more dense than fat. But I think it also has to do with my frame. Though I am short, I do not have a little birdlike frame. I am not a wispy, or lithe, or wraith like. I have a very strong German heritage and we Germans are a stalwart, hardy and sturdy race.
But I digress...
Months later when at last I had been granted lifetime status by Weight Watchers, I received a package in the mail from my sister. I was puzzled. We send things back and forth to one another, but I'm usually aware of when something is on it's way. When I tore the envelope open, a little velvet box tumbled out. I couldn't imagine what it could be, since we'd divided up all of Mom's jewelry and baubles months before. There was a card, but I didn't want to read it first and ruin the surprise. I opened the box and literally gasped aloud. Tears sprang to my eyes and immediately overflowed to stream down my cheeks. I didn't wipe them away.
There in the box was Mom's Weight Watchers key chain with all the charms and washers. It's not shiny anymore. My Mom carried it with her on her actual key chain and it bears all the scars of a well loved and well used object. If someone found it on the street, they would likely toss it in the garbage as it looks as if it couldn't possibly be of any value to anyone. But to me, it shone with a brilliance that could not be equalled by any diamond. I sat there in my kitchen with the silly thing cupped in my hands like a baby bird and cried.
The note from my sister said simply that I should have it because I'd earned it and Mom would want me to. And that she was proud of me. And Mom would be too.
When I last saw my Mom, I had only lost 22lbs. When she died, I had lost 65, but I hadn't seen her in 9 months. She never saw me thin. She doesn't know I became a Zumba instructor. God, that would have tickled her to death. She doesn't know I made goal. She doesn't know that Weight Watchers hired me. All this stuff I did....and she didn't get to see any of it.
I'm so angry about that.
For much of my life, I felt like I was a disappointment to my Mom. Oh, I know she loved me. Never, ever, did I doubt that. But I rejected her faith at a very young age. I didn't do well in school (I actually had to repeat my entire senior year to get my high school diploma) and I didn't go on to college. I moved away very young to a big city. I married a man from an entirely different sphere of humanity (though she loved him like her own son); one she never could understand or identify with. I never came back home to raise my family as she hoped. I bore only boys, which were completely foreign to her. And we differed on just about every political and moral issue there is.
My Dad always said that we clashed so much when I was young because we were so, so, so much the same. Now I see that is true and I consider it the highest compliment I could ever be paid. But back then...boy it pissed me off.
So I thought that maybe if I achieved these goals I had set for myself, she might finally be proud of me. But then she died. Everybody says..."Oh, she knows. And she's proud." I know people are trying to be kind, but frankly, I don't want to hear that. Because I want her HERE. To see with her own eyes and to speak it with her own lips. Though I did all these things first and foremost for myself...I really wanted to hear her say, "I'm proud of you honey."
And I'm also angry because she was cheated. For her entire life she did what had to be done; to feed us, to shelter us, to make sure that above all, we had good character, strength and dignity. She never got to live life just for herself. She endured so many years of struggle and sacrifice; so many years of meaningless drudgework for a paycheck. And then, just when she had the luxury of doing something purely for her own enjoyment and fulfillment...she died. I can't even explain how intensely angry I am about that. Me, the wordsmith, at a loss for how to explain the deep, aching, blinding, binding, searing ANGER that I feel over her death.
But on to the secret...
I take my Mom with me to work.
It's silly and stupid, but it makes me feel like she's there and she's a part of of what's happening.
I take that little velvet box out of my jewelry armoire and slip it into my purse or my pocket before each meeting. I keep it someplace nearby, though I am TERRIFIED of losing it, so often it stays in my purse if I don't have any pockets in which to keep it. But she's with me. She's cheering on the members who lost and commiserating with those who gained. She's chit chatting, smiling, lending support, giving advice, sharing recipes and food finds. She's restocking shelves and swiping credit cards and stacking chairs.
Recently I added my lifetime charm to the keychain. It's very shiny and stands out amid the worn ones she earned. There we are together on that key chain and it reminds me that...
She's present. Because she's the reason I am present.
And together, we will help change lives.