Note: this category is usually meant for the letters I write to Mom and The Old Man, but today I’m posting this note here because I feel it belongs here. And please be warned, there will be no apologies in advance for my sappiness. And please excuse the heaviness because it was written with all my heart. This one is for you, my very special friend!
We all know words have meaning. We know what they mean on paper and what they mean in our heart. And there’s a difference here. A word is nothing more than a word and given a basic definition, that’s all a word is. Nothing more, nothing less. However, there is a difference between the connotation and the denotation of a word. There is a secondary meaning or the meanings we associate with a word and there is the denotation, which is the direct meaning or definition.
Often times, the direct meaning of a word are overpowered by our secondary definition. Take the word “Mother” for example.
I know what this word means on paper. I also know what it means to me. I associate this with love and sadness. I associate this word with a loss I felt on June 10, 2015. When I hear the word “Mother,” I think phone calls from nurses and doctors. I think of legal terms such as Healthcare Proxy and a paper I needed to sign in the afternoon on that very same date. Of all signatures I’ve ever had to sign for any reason, the signature to sign my Mother’s D.N.R. that day in the hospital was the hardest ever. One could say I was strong because I followed my Mother’s wishes . . . but I will touch more on this at the end of my note
Mother: A female parent
This is the direct definition to this word.
Now when I hear the word “Mom,” I have a completely different association. The word means the same thing as mother but the feeling behind it gives off a different emotion to me. I interpret the word “Mom” to a long list of memories. To me, the word means nurturing. It means caring. Mom is the one that picked me up from school. Mom is the one that never quit on me, —even when I quit on myself, Mom was always there. When I say the word, I associate this with childhood and better times. And this is where the word becomes multidimensional and varies with secondary meanings. I never defined Mom as “My mother.” She was my Mom.
There are some I know who view this term in a bad way. The word Mom to them is not a good memory. The word Mom to them is a link to poor childhood days, abuse, and neglect. There are others I know, who themselves are in motherhood, and they too have their own meaning of the word Mom.
I am not sure what Mom means to anyone else, but I can say that I have seen a few in my time whose definitions ring amazingly true. To these women, the word Mom is a protector, a nurturer, a guide, a source of hope and help. To some the word Mom in their eyes is the home they provide because, of course, all good Moms provide good homes.
To me, I see the word Mom as a definition of endurance. Moms are not allowed or supposed to get sick. Moms cry and they weep, but they also persevere, and they never waver, give in, give up, or quit.
I am a son. I am the son of my mother and father. I am a brother. However, I was that one in the family. I was “That” kid. I was the lost one, the lost child, the scapegoat, and a long list of clinical terms. I was that one who was unaware of his value and unaware of his abilities. I was the one who couldn’t live up to his potential. I was sickly (in my eyes) and weak.
The word son means a male child of parents.
However, the connotation is subjective. The word son means different things to different parents, but as a son, I was not always proud of my title because I was not always proud of my actions.
I was ashamed of several aspects of my life. I was ashamed of me and the way I looked, spoke, and acted. I was insecure and uncomfortable for a very long time. I was the troubled kid. I was the one in therapy. I was the one they whispered about in the other room (or so I thought) and I was the one humiliating the family name in the newspaper after my first arrest and I was the one who “Needed help,” and felt like a special needs, learning disabled, special case. The word “Son” was not a prideful thing to me. Instead, I wore that title with shame. I felt shame behind this title because in my heart, I never believed I could ever live up to my parents’ expectation.
This was not a result or a response to a lack of love. My feelings as “The problem child” were a deception of my own perception. My secondary meanings were a result of my own mind. The ideas and definitions I came up with were not because my parents did not love me or care for me. No, this is not the case at all.
My definitions and issues with self are things that stemmed from within me and no matter how much love was given or attention, I was unaware and unable to ask for, look for, or define the help I needed.
Put simply, I was that kid. I was that lost kid who believed the lies of his own mind. And yes, Mom and The Old Man they did all they could.
In fact, they did all they knew how to do. What else could they have done? My parents didn’t know what my depression was like. They had no idea what words meant to me in my head.
Secondary meanings, while often inaccurate, are more impactful than literal meanings. In my studies, I am learning more about this and finding this to work out very well in my programs.
There is another word I am thinking about and used previously i n this note. And that word is “Strength.” One could connect this with Mom and Dad. One could connect this with their child, their daughter or their son, whomever they know that endure.
Strength: The bodily ability of being strong, a force, or power.
Back when I was young, I knew a man who claimed to have perfected the bench press. He benched 500lbs. He was certainly the strongest and toughest man I’ve ever seen. He had a signature move when he fought. The man I knew liked to lift people up by the throat and throw them because he described this as, “The best way to take away someone’s manhood.”
He was strong alright . . .
This Sunday, I listened to a woman speak about the loss of her son to a terrible and painfully devastating epidemic. She gave all she had and did all she could as a Mom, but sadly, she lost her son.
I wonder what these words mean to her. I wonder if her son related to my definition of being “That kid.” I wonder is this woman saw her boy the same way my Mom saw me; only, neither her son or me were able to see these things in ourselves.
And more importantly, that friend of mine who perfected the bench press, he isn’t so strong. No, that Mom is stronger than him by far. She has not quit, she hasn’t given up, and she fights back every day to educate those who need to learn about the truth.
But I go back to that word strength. I often wonder what this word means to this Mom, —a woman more motherly, more loving, and beautiful (as God intended) than any can imagine. I want to empower her. I want her to know more about the other side of things, which is a side she might not have known or understood. I want her to know that I was her son too; only, I survived and I’m sorry. I want to empower her, this way her son lives stronger than both of us. This way The Old Man and my Mom can look down upon me, proudly, and say, “That’s our son!”
I was thinking . . .
I wonder when people comment on how strong this Mom is if she mutters in her head, “I don’t want to be strong anymore. I just want my son back!”
I can relate to this from a different angle
Sometimes we don’t ask to be strong.
It’s just what we are
I am going to study more words and their meanings.
I’m also going to make sure that Mom who spoke this last Sunday knows she can adopt me at any time because after all, every kid needs a Mom and every Mom needs their Son . . .