She was my mother. All my life I’d tried to do what she wanted: to become a successful professional I went to first to an Ivy League school and then to law school. In law school I’d wanted to work for those who had no voice – children in the foster system or illegal farm workers – but I took a corporate job instead.
The beach trip we took to Hawaii was my final gift to her. On our last night, I confronted her with what I thought was my deepest disappointment: I had struggled to be everything I thought she wanted me to be. And still I didn’t seem to be a person she was proud of.
“Proud of you?” she asked. “Why should I be proud of you? You did this all for yourself, so you could bring me here, and now you throw it up to me how much you make at your job and how much you can afford all this.”
That night I googled some of my colleagues from law school and in a week I was working for a non-profit in my hometown representing under-age runaway girls.
The beach was still warm when I went back a year later. But this time my heart was warm too.