As a mother, I have been blessed with many days that have brought me immeasurable joy and pride—the days my daughters were born, their first words, their first steps, their first days of school. Watching them perform on stage in theatrical and musical performances. Bat mitzvahs, graduations, a wedding, and the births of my grandchildren. Those are the big events. Then there are so many smaller events that have filled my heart with so much love and joy—when they’ve done something kind to a friend or family member, when they’ve made someone smile, when they’ve made me laugh until tears roll down my face. Being their mother has been a constant source of joy and pride.
Yes, there were and still are moments that I get exasperated with them. There were times I’ve lost my temper or said something too harsh. Times I was in too much of a rush or under too much stress to be as patient or attentive as I should have been. And there were times they also didn’t behave as I might have wanted them to. But overall being a mother has brought me the greatest challenges and the greatest rewards of my life.
Yesterday was one of those days of immeasurable joy and pride just as last October 11 had been when Maddy ran the Boston Marathon for the first time. Yesterday she did it again. Of course, I am proud of her determination and her hard work and her accomplishment of running 26.2 miles on one of the hardest marathon courses in the world. But it is more than that. So much more than that.
Maddy works at the Lenox Hotel in Boston, a beautiful old hotel with so much style and class that it puts any other hotel to shame. And it happens to be located just a block away from the Marathon finish line. It is the perfect place to watch the thousands of runners as they finally reach their goal after hours of running. You are a witness to all their excitement, exhaustion, and elation as they see that finish line in front of them. And so, of course, we stayed at the hotel to watch and to witness Maddy’s completion of the marathon for the second time.
From the moment we entered the hotel on Sunday night, we were treated like VIPs. Everyone told us how proud they were of Maddy, how excited they were, and how much they loved her. From the top management of the hotel to the woman who came to clean our room, we heard over and over again how kind she was, how special she was. What more could a parent ask for?
And then we waited and watched as the participants passed the Lenox. First, the amazing grit and determination of the wheelchair and hand-cycle participants, then the awe-inspiring runners who were pushing a loved one in a wheelchair through the racecourse, then the elite runners arriving in just over two hours, and then wave after wave of runners from all over the world of all ages.
The fourth wave were the runners who ran for charity, not based on a qualifying time, and in my mind, they are the most important of all. They are not doing it solely for the athletic challenge, but to make life better for others at the same time.
Maddy was in that fourth wave. In the three times she has raised money in order to run in the Marathon (the first time cancelled because of COVID), she has raised close to $50,000 from friends and family for the Boston Medical Center, a non-profit 514-bed academic hospital in Boston; its mission statement states that the hospital is “driven by a commitment to care for all people, regardless of their ability to pay, providing not only traditional medical care, but also programs and services that wrap around that care to enhance overall health.” Maddy’s ability to raise that kind of money for the hospital is a testament to how many people care about her and support her efforts.
As we waited for Maddy to approach the finish line, we tracked her on the Boston Athletic Association app. She was running with her friend Mo, and they stopped to send us a selfie they took as they passed the halfway mark at 13.1 miles—their big smiles glowing with pride and happiness. Maddy’s oldest and dearest friend Anna traveled from western Massachusetts with her family to stand along the race route to cheer Maddy on and give her a hug. Our cousins in Newton waited along Heartbreak Hill to cheer her on as well.
And then we saw on the app that Maddy was crossing Mass Avenue and then turning onto Hereford Street and finally on to Boylston Street, just a few blocks away from where we were standing. We noticed that Mo was now trailing her just a bit and later learned that Mo had graciously told Maddy to run ahead—perhaps to get all her glory alone as she passed us, arms high, smile beaming, with her co-workers and friends and her parents yelling and screaming her name as she ran by and then crossed the finish line.
We then waited for her to return to the hotel, her home away from home, the place where so many who love her were waiting to cheer her accomplishment. As she walked in, the DJ played “Eye of the Tiger,” and the crowd cheered and applauded and then allowed us, her parents, to give her the first hugs.
And then, as she was being hugged and greeted by others, she noticed that the 95-year-old owner of the hotel was also in the lobby, sitting in a wheelchair, waiting to see her. Maddy went over and gave him a hug and spoke to him, and my heart almost exploded with pride and emotion.
So yes, yesterday was one of those days you dream of as a mother when you are raising a young child and hoping that they will grow up to be hard-working and determined and kind and generous. That they will be filled with joy and self-confidence. And most importantly, that they will be loved and loving.
I am so blessed that both of my daughters have fulfilled those dreams for me in so many ways. Rebecca, through her work fighting against gun violence and as a loving and devoted mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend, has also given me many days of intense joy and pride. And yesterday was only one of the many days when Maddy has brought tears to my eyes with her kindness and love and joyfulness and her determination to do her best at whatever she does.
But yesterday—well, yesterday was one of those truly special days that I will always cherish.