The Lion and the Otter

Courage. It’s a lion of a word, and one that applies to warriors and soldiers and firefighters and things, right?

My mom isn’t much of a lion. More of an otter, really, given her druthers, but that’s not what I’m on about.

What I’m on about is her courage. She’s not a warrior or a soldier and she’s never put out a fire bigger than that time with the grease on the stove, but she’s one brave woman.

My father died 12 years ago. He was the rock of our family; he was the breadwinner, too. Mom was devastated. We all were. He owned and ran a small trophy store. Him and Bill — and me, part-time. Very part-time. The trophy store was the source of most of our money.

Mom could have sold it. She could have found someone to run it for her. She’d never run a business before in her life; she’d never been involved with the trophy store. That was dad’s job. She’d taught school, she’d raised us kids. She’d done a bit of embroidery for the store. But that’s it.

She ran it. She took it over and learned what she had to, and she had to hide in the bathroom and cry sometimes but she did it. I still remember the first day she was in there alone, without Bill. She was terrified. There was so much she had to know, so much she could screw up, and she really didn’t think she could do it. I know she had to go and hide in the bathroom a couple times and just cry. But she came right back out each time and kept on keeping on.

She still cries sometimes. She cried when we moved the business into a new building, and we named it the Franklin W. Jones Memorial Building. But it’s because of her that the business is still around to be moved, and it’s because of her that we have a nice new place to work in. Because she had the courage to keep on keeping on.

Courage isn’t about being without fear. Courage is about facing up to whatever’s got you sad or scared or upset, even though it sucks a lot, and keeping on keeping on. Not brilliantly, not necessarily even very well; just doing your best. That’s what my mom did, and that’s what she’s still doing, and I’m proud of her for it. Maybe in her own way she’s a lion. Though I still think she’d rather be an otter.

— Kathleen Jones, Pennsylvania

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