Freckles in April: Grace and Milkshakes

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Grace and Milkshakes

My mom

When I was 5, my pregnant mom and her good friend, Lonnie,  took my 4-year-old sister and I to Ardenwood Farm while my dad went water-skiing with a group of guy friends. After a couple hours, we passed a bright sticky note that said Kepi Peterson please see docent. So she found a worker and pointed to the note, saying, “That’s me!”

Cell phones were very rare in 1990 and Ardenwood is a working farm with no phones anywhere except at the office. The worker told my mom that there was a family emergency and she needed to go to the office phone. We worked our way there and they told us someone had been trying to get a hold of my mom and they would call again in just a few minutes.
A family friend called and explained that my dad had been in an accident. It was bad but "he'll live." He'd been airlifted to the hospital. The details were sketchy and my mom was confused but hopped in the car so Lonnie could drive her to the hospital.

In the ER my dad's face was hardly visible between bandages. He had been waterskiing down a narrow channel and cut too wide. He hit the jagged rocks along the side and went down. Onto his face.

He had a couple reconstructive facial surgeries during his week in the hospital before he was able to come home. His jaws were wired shut for 7 weeks and he lost 20 lbs. For his 30th birthday my mom threw him a milkshake party.

At the time, my dad worked construction. If he didn't work, he didn't get paid. After his accident, my dad couldn't work for 3 months. 

As a 5-year-old child I knew what had happened to my dad was scary but, obviously, did not grasp the full significance. For one of his surgeries they shaved off only half his mustache (like he'd want to keep the other half?), which was kind of funny to me. Plus: daddy was home every day for what seemed like forever. We had milkshakes for his birthday! It was kind of awesome.

A few weeks post accident. Mustache-less, jaws wired shut and a little banged up. But alive! Which is how we like him.

NOW, as a mother, I can't even fathom how my mom held herself together during that time. She had two children, with another one on the way, and a seriously banged up husband. They had no income for 3 months. I have a distinct memory of going to our church to get food and a man handing my mom a loaf of bread.

I'm sure my mom had her moments of tears, nights when she couldn't sleep, days when the worry was all-consuming. But I never saw any of that. Somehow, she made life continue on as normal.

Many years later, I talked to my dad about the accident. He said it was one of the best things to ever happen to their marriage. Having three months to just spend time with each other and with us girls allowed them to build a rock-solid foundation that has safely weathered many of life's storms since then.

Still mushily in love.

There have been a few times as an adult that I've had to remind myself that my mom had it so much worse. Whatever hard thing I'm facing? Suck it up, Kayla. If she came through that experience with grace, milkshakes and a smile then I can too.

Post sponsored by Nestl√©® Pure Life®. Celebrating the pure wisdom that our mothers share with us and how they help us stay healthy and hydrated (my mom was awesome about pushing water on us after we moved to Arizona. I can fully credit her with my crazy water drinking habit).

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  1. Such a beautiful, inspiring post about your mom! What a wonderful example - thanks for sharing.

  2. This is so sweet. Also, so freaking scary.

  3. Man, I love those old photos so much. You look so much like your mom! And it's easy growing up to kind of think of your parents as....PARENTS....not really as real people. Now as an adult i look back and i'm like HOLY CRAP YOU DEALT WITH THAT?! It seems more real when you view it from an older perspective. And...half a mustache? Why...?

  4. your mom was and is such a babe. she's also a rockstar to deal with all that. i shiver just thinking of it all.


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