“All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip, or dance, just don't tiptoe." So says a spiritual teacher named Shane Claiborne, who I only learned of when I ran across this quote. I never really told my children this, but they absorbed the message just the same. They are adventurers, all three of them—my son, my daughter, my niece—intrepid travelers, bringing the ones they love along with them on jaunts around the world.
My son's girlfriend didn't have a passport when they met. For Christmas their first year he gave her the paperwork all filled out, every part of it done with the secret help of her mother. All she had to do was sign and send it in. As soon as the little blue book arrived, they booked their flights. My daughter, meanwhile, is right now on a beach with her boyfriend, apparently having a very fine time. And my niece is just back from climbing an active volcano with her love in Antigua, Guatemala; that's her on the yellow ATV, posing with the mountain.
These three somehow learned to look outward, embracing the world as their own. And yet you can find them running, skipping, hopping, dancing even when they are doing nothing more than the dailiness of work, school, living their lives in the place they call home. How did they get so wise? I think my mother had everything to do with it. She traveled with all three of them every summer from the time they were just little birds, guiding them through airports, even after she was in a wheelchair, showing them the grandness of adventure in the everyday.
This week, on the day that students across the country walked out of school in brave protest, we marked the third anniversary of the day we laid my mom to rest. My son noticed the date and called to see how I was doing. I was doing fine that day. My children's closeness to my mother—their skipping, dancing, wheelchair-twirling grandmother—made me smile through the ache of missing her.