I am my mother’s third child. When I was born, the doctor gently explained to my mother that my left arm was missing, below the elbow. Then he gave her some advice: “Don’t treat her any differently from the other girls. Demand more.” And she did!
My mother had to work to support our family. There were five girls in our family and we all had to help out. Once when I was about seven, I came out of the kitchen, “Mom, I can’t peel potatoes. I only have one hand.”
“You go back to peel these potatoes, and don’t ever use that as an excuse for anything again!”
Of course I could peel potatoes ― with my good hand, while holding them down with the other arm. There was always a way, and Mom knew it. “If you try hard enough,” she’d say, “you can do anything.”
Once in the second grade, our teacher had each of us race across the monkey bars. When it was my turn, I shook my head. Some kids laughed. I went home crying. After work the next afternoon, Mom took me back to the school playground.
“Now, pull up with your right arm,” she advised. She stood by as I practiced, and she praised me when I made progress. I’ll never forget the next time when I was crossing the bars. The kids were standing there with their mouths open.
It was the way with everything. When I fear I can’t handle things, I see Mom’s smile. She had the heart to face anything. And she taught me I could, too.