My mother is a legend at her gym. My second Christmas back from college, I went with her for a couple of workouts, and that was when I realized that the woman who gave birth to me, hitch-hiked across Ireland, and beat cancer has never stopped being badass.
There I was, a collegiate athlete looking buff in my cutout, ready to run my pentagenerian mother into the ground when I couple of muscular grey-beards approached us at a tricep machine.
“Think you can keep up with her, young’n?” one asked.
I laughed. Do not ask for whom the bell tolls.
“She’s a soccer player!” my mother answered, neatly sidestepping the question and sounding proud of me at the same time.
“Good luck!” said the other.
When my mother was able to triple my weight on the first three machines, I started to suspect this might be embarrassing. Then she took off around the track—despite an old IT band injury and, you know, cancer—leaving me haplessly chasing after her, and I knew the next two hours (I wish I was kidding) were going to be brutal.
With the agility of a squirrel and the forearm strength of a professional pickle jar opener, she skipped through 800 jump-ropes while I wheezed and tried to untangle myself from my own rope.
In the fortieth minute of a perfect plank position, my mother explained the wussy version of what she was doing, so I—quivering mass of abdominals that I was—wouldn’t look too foolish while she finished up.
“Don’t you bench press?” I asked. I had been working on my bench, and figured there, at least I might be competitive.
“Oh, do you want to?” she said, looking fresher than a raspberry in a Dannon commercial and casually lifting eighty pound weights over her head like they were foam fingers. “Sure! Let’s do some push-ups first to warm up.”
17 million pushups in three variations later, I hit the showers while she stair-stepped up Mt. Katahdin for a cool down.
This past weekend my mom did a triathlon (for funsies!) and placed 2nd in her division. As my dad likes to say: cancer didn’t stand a chance.
|Charging out of the water!|
|You can't see it from here, but she's smiling.|
Exact quote: "The bike was fun!"
|Ready to go again!|
Also, my mom watches the Kiera Knightley Pride and Prejudice at least once a month and has a weak spot both for Leave it to Beaver and Ghirardelli’s chocolate. And she always asks dad to open the pickle jar.