April in Glenwood: A mile in a mom’s shoes
Whenever I walked in one of Glenwood’s best traditions, the Mother’s Day Mile, I recalled that old proverb, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”
“Man” was switched out for “woman,” appropriately.
My mom, grandmothers and great-grandmothers would be on my mind as my shoes hit the pavement. I thought about the message behind the proverb — empathy — and how my mom taught me to think of how others felt, and what they might be experiencing. She lost her own mother early, when my grandmother Betty was only 51, from cancer. So I have many early memories of the struggle the disease unleashed on our family as my mom helped her mother experience end of life.
Fortitude also comes to mind.
Possessing mental and emotional strength during adversity is an attribute we all need to navigate the journey of life. Fortitude came up recently after asking Roaring Fork Valley Facebook friends to share stories of their moms and the Mother’s Day Mile. Win Charles, of Aspen, reached out with memories of her mom, Carolanne, who passed away in 2010 after suffering a brain aneurysm. The two never participated in the Mother’s Day Mile, but Win said it would have been just the kind of thing the two did together. Win was born with cerebral palsy, and her mother dedicated her life to be Win’s No. 1 fan and caregiver.
“When I think of my mom, I think of fortitude and grace. She never buried her head in the sand,” Win said. “She always told me that a disability is just a fear of the unknown. She raised me as if I did not have a disability. She wanted me to be able to participate in everything.”
Win, named for her grandmother who died on a Mother’s Day, said the holiday is tough after losing two of the most influential women her life. The 28-year-old writer, teacher and advocate for the disabled recalled a moment when her mother beamed with pride as she carried the Olympic Torch in 2002.
“I did it in my wheelchair — it was one of the coolest memories I have, and my mom set it all up. I’ll never forget having all that support around me,” Win said.
That unconditional love from our mothers molds us in ways we may not realize until the years pass. Jen Roeser, of Marble, recalled a Mother’s Day memory from a mom’s perspective regarding her now-16-year-old, Levi.
“He ran his first Mother’s Day Mile 12 years ago, when he was 4,” she wrote. “His time was around 14 minutes, and he was so proud. Momma was too, and the pride keeps growing.”
Jen kept a memento from the day, his Kid’s Run for Fun bib number, which happens to be No. 1. She wrote a special note to Levi so he would always remember his first Mother’s Day Mile on May 4, 2004.
“Levi ran the race under 14 minutes. You ran all the way with Dad and at the finish line, you slowed down and smiled and waved at everyone. Your first race. Way to go! At the end, you brought me a necklace — that you put on me — and a rose,” she documented.
Glenwood Defiance rugby coach Bob Herrell had a funny, sweet memory from a past Mother’s Day Mile when the players ran as a team, with a different outcome.
“Lil’ Nicky Garay ran a blistering pace and came in second. Then I waited for the rest of my incredibly fit rugby team. And waited. And waited. They finally all came in together (Lil’ Nicky ran back and joined them) at a shuffle-walk, almost-jog,” he recalled. “My Mom turned to me and said, ‘I thought you were emphasizing fitness this year.’”
Coach Herrell said the players told him it wasn’t practice, so they didn’t run, and they wanted to stay together, so they all went at the slowest player’s pace.
“I was proud that they ran together, but my team, in their jerseys, dead last in a well publicized citywide event,” he said. “Go Defiance!”
The Mother’s Day Mile has created many memories in the community since it first started 17 years ago, with the help of town mom Nancy Reinisch, to benefit domestic and sexual violence programs of the Advocate Safehouse Project. I participated well before becoming a mom. I remember walking with my friends Kendra, Julie and Janelle, and celebrating our mothers (in spirit, as they lived in other places at the time) after on Julie’s deck. We were new friends back then, and much has changed in the last seven years that a lot has to do with motherhood and fortitude. Taking that morning to walk a mile, and hypothetically walk in our mothers’ shoes, helped us appreciate how much they taught us.
And how much they have meant to us all our lives.
April E. Clark loves that the women of the Sisterhood Exchange Program, of Mfangano Island, Kenya, handcraft Mother’s Day Mile awards. Thanks to Nancy Reinisch and Dr. Paul Salmen, and their sons Chas and Marco, for making that connection. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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