– Dana Cataldo
Perhaps it’s cliché to talk about your mom as an inspiring woman. When applying for college years ago, I remember college admissions officers certainly thought so. We were explicitly told to avoid stories about our mothers because such stories were overplayed. But I don’t care. My mother is the most amazing and strong woman I have ever known.
My mom is an artist. As you might imagine, this made for some really fun childhood moments. To the astonishment of many of my childhood friends, my mom was always drawing and painting on the walls when they visited – an activity that was banned in their own households. Like the changing of seasons, our rooms would transform year by year. Our kitchen became a Parisian flower market, then our became hallway a classic New England Autumn, then my brothers’ room became Fenway Park. My own bedroom underwent dramatic changes, from a plush jungle, a fairy sanctuary, to a beautiful beach. As a child, these changes thrilled me. I watched in awe as my mom surrounded herself in these projects, constantly drawing up imaginative new landscapes.
I think that my mother’s active imagination and creativity are what make her so unique. She is always drawing inspiration from her surroundings and then, literally, expressing both in artwork and on the world around her.
Her art was only halted for a brief period when I was in high school. During this time, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Often times, such a diagnosis is a death sentence. Fortunately, doctors were able to catch is at an early stage. Even though this diagnosis stopped her from doing what she loved to do most, I still remember coming home each day to her smiling. Her determination through everything was so truly amazing that sometimes I almost forgot she had lost a part of her body.
You might think such a major surgery would leave a person inactive and depressed for a couple of months. Not so my mom. She was as energetic as always, moving about the house with ease, grinning from ear to ear.
My mom simply doesn’t allow herself to get weighed down with sadness or self-pity. Instead, she strives to find the good, the silver lining, the light out there that has always inspired her to create in her life.
This determination has echoed throughout the years. With on going ailments between her and my father, she is still the most optimistic and cheerful person I know. She moves forward, never backward. “On to the next adventure,” she always says: a mantra that has helped her always make the most of each day. My mom simply doesn’t allow herself to get weighed down with sadness or self-pity. Instead, she strives to find the good, the silver lining, the light out there that has always inspired her to create in her life. “On to the next adventure” she says, and I watch as she, opens herself up to new experiences, new muses, new sources of inspiration.
Despite all of the challenges a mother inevitably faces raising three bratty kids, and growing together with my dad in nearly forty years of marriage, my mom finds inspiration. Each and every day, her positivity and energy inspire me. “On to the next adventure,” I remind myself, and I try as best I can to live like she does. Love you, mom!