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A Mother's Day tribute

Jessica Cuffman • May 12, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Mom still cringes when she remembers getting the phone call about my trip to the emergency room, the surgery the next day to repair my broken ankle, and the eight weeks of recovery that followed.

I survived 15 years of sports with no significant injuries, but only a few weeks into fresh meat practice, I busted my ankle up during a simple drill at practice.

Five minutes before surgery, that derby name I'd been searching for dawned on me.

"Mom, I'm gonna be Buster Bones!"

I think she raised both eyebrows and started to shake. Her eyes definitely got wider.

"You're going to keep playing?"

"Of course I'm going to keep playing. Don't let me forget that name."

So Mom, as much as it makes you cringe, it's your fault.

And now, I have proof.

I got an unexpected Mother's Day gift in the mail last week from Grandma.

A card with two photographs, labeled "Penny 1967" on the back.

And there's you Mom, looking just like my little sister Shay did when she was 8, bird legs and blonde hair — with roller skates strapped over your black flats and white socks, standing on the sidewalk outside the Knauss Road house.

In the second photograph you've tumbled over into the grass and are getting back up.

Women's athletics, derby included, have come a long way in half a century. But Mom, it's because of women like you.

Readers: You see, my mom made history in 1975 when she competed in the first ever Ohio high school girls state track meet, placing in the 100-yard dash, her team winning the 440-yard relay and placing in the 880-yard relay.

She went on to make her professional mark in the world as a family consumer science teacher, better known as home ec.

Yeah, she was that teacher who put up with junior high kids as they put sewing machine needles through their fingers and too much sugar in the no bakes.

Parents: She was also the teacher who sent the fake crying baby dolls home with your kids to give them an idea of what it'd be like to be a parent.

And even though she's counting down the days until her last day of school, marking the start of her retirement, I know she truly loved it.

Mom's the reason I can sew my own buttons back on my jeans. Why when I'm hungry and there's nothing in the fridge, I make a pizza out of crescent rolls, cream cheese, spinach, and half of jar of spaghetti sauce. Why my apartment is overflowing with not clothes, but crafts and projects, a bicycle, a kayak, and a flower garden.

She's also why I was able to study abroad for a quarter and get a college degree. Why I learned to play rugby and why I put those skates back on after my ankle was healed.

Because even when it was hard, Mom did it anyway. If she didn't know how, she figured it out.

She's led by example, and supported me in all the choices I've made in my life. Thank you Mom.

To my co-conspirator, Grandma: You're owed that credit, too. Because Mom had you as an example. And you top both of us in resourcefulness, strength, and independence.

Happy Mother's Day.

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