For those who’s mothers are “Still Going Strong”… (I personally LOVE this one because I can’t WHINE about being only 53 & trying to figure out my next job!)
Mom, I Want to Remind You That at Any Age, “You Can Do This”
It’s something you always said to me in my toughest moments, and now it’s my turn to be by your side.
Remember when you’d sit to my left in my cramped room in our tiny apartment as I struggled through English essays for Ms. Johnson’s class? At my breaking point, which came some time after the 11 o’clock news and just before The Tonight Show, you’d say calmly, “You can do this. You can do anything you put your mind to.” Well, those words taught me how to fight beyond what I ever thought possible.
It only dawned on me recently, through our documentary film, how much those same words have shaped you.
A single mom, fighting to make ends meet, you’d be out of the house by 6 a.m. and back by p.m., ready to take on the second shift. My brother and I could never have grasped that our wants for GigaPets and Charleston Chews, hamsters and Super Mario games dipped into your bottom line. Yet, somehow, we were never left without. You found a way. Just as you found a way from England to the States, without family or friends. Or as you, a white mom, raised two black children in a racially segregated Boston neighborhood. You made it through, with your two sons in tow.
In 2010, as I struggled to start my media business, Swagger, I remember calling you outside of the coffee shop which acted as my office, screaming “I can’t do this, mom. I don’t know where my next check is going to come from.”
You waited a beat, and repeated your line: You can do this. You can do anything you put your mind to.
And here I am, still going.
When you lost your job last fall at 75, the tables turned. You called me and I remember your tone being lower than normal. You began to weep about how hard it was to apply for jobs online, especially since all your past applications had been done by hand. You mentioned how hard it would be for you to survive without a gig. “After all, who’d hire a 75-year-old?” you told me.
I want to remind you that, at any age: You can do this. You can do anything you put your mind to.
Just as you sat with me decades ago, I’m here beside you. Together, Mom, we are stronger than we ever thought possible.
Sian-Pierre Regis is the founder of Swagger, an online platform that offers an unfiltered lens into street art and culture. He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new documentary, Duty Free, tracking a bucket list journey for his mother to find meaning in a life without work after being abruptly fired at age 75.
This is part of a special series, “Thank You, Mom,” highlighting letters of gratitude from celebrities and notable writers leading up to Mother’s Day. To view the full collection, which will be added to throughout the month of May, go here.