“So you are jumping off a building. For charity.”
“I am rappelling off a building for charity. There is a difference.”
“How is that different?”
“Rappelling involves a safety harness.”
I should not have been surprised that I was having this conversation with my mother. I’ve grown used to phone calls about fencing class, parasailing excursions and a hot air balloon rides. We celebrated my mom’s 50th birthday by taking a jet boat ride through the rapids on the Niagara River. My mom also returned from a Caribbean cruise with photos of her trying an underwater scooter contraption that looks like it was invented by Captain Nemoy. To say my mom likes to try new things is an understatement. This was different though, not only because it was for charity, but also because it seemed completely ludicrous.
The event was called Over the Edge. Participants who raised at least $1000 rappelled down the side of the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, NY. All proceeds from the event would support Special Olympians for an entire year of training and competition. Trying something new while also helping others? This had mom’s name written all over it. My mom has never been the type of person to sit around complacent when there is something new she can experience.
So on that July afternoon we all gathered at the base of the casino. Scheduling errors kept pushing mom’s start time back, and we all started to get a little anxious. Eventually her number was called and she was taken up to the roof with her descent partner, a Special Olympian, who would complete the rappel next to her. By the time her name was announced, we had all worked ourselves up into a respectable amount of anxiety.
It is hard to put into words the way you feel when you see your mother fall off of a 27 story building. Logically, I knew she was perfectly safe. But I still felt a certain level of apprehension watching someone I love very much in a perilous situation. Her entire trip down, my sister and I stood at the base of the building, giggling like children because we could not believe that it was our mother up on that wall.
My mom, Peggy, is the most insanely optimistic person you will ever meet. There has never been a single problem my sister or I have presented to her that she can’t solve with sincerity and positivity. As a moody and sarcastic teenager, I found this trait incredibly annoying. As a more reasonable, less sarcastic adult, I now see it as a blessing. My mom will be happy to know that her voice appears in my head, Jiminy Cricket style, at times when I need reminding that kindness goes a long way. Watching my mom be unafraid has made me more confident to step outside of my own comfort zone. She makes it look so easy and so fulfilling that you can’t help but be inspired.
Mom came out to join all of us after her rappel. My grandmother got to her before us, in between tears and hugs, grandma said “I know that you had fun but don’t you ever do that again!” I didn’t take that opportunity to tell my grandma that I wanted to take the rappel next year. After all, I am my mother’s daughter.
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