Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Mama's Heart

I asked my mom to share a little bit of her perspective. Her involvement with my trips to Ghana has matched my own on multiple levels, and I know so few parents who would support me as fully as she has from the first moment I told her I didn't think Kentucky was the place for me. Enjoy!

What do you do when your 18-year-old daughter tells you that she is applying for a position in Africa and leaving at the end of the summer? You sew a sleep sack, apply for a travel visa, buy vitamins, take lots of pictures during the last week she’s home, drive her to the airport and then wave good-bye. That’s what I did anyway. Ok, I did a lot more than that, but seriously- when it comes to Katherine, the best thing anyone can do is just to get out of her way. She’ll find a way to go over, around, or through if necessary to accomplish her goal and I knew from the time she was a very young girl that one day she would live in Africa. It was just happening much sooner than I 'd expected. I thought I’d have at least four more years to prepare, but Africa was calling and Katherine was answering. 
As I am writing this, Katherine is once again in Africa – the home she loves so dearly – but this time she is three years older, wiser, and away for a much shorter period of time.  In some ways, this trip is much easier because I have a better idea what to expect, but it is in no way easier on this mama’s heart. She is so far away and there is virtually nothing I can do if she calls to tell me her luggage didn’t show up, or that she’s stranded in a strange city, or that every man she passes wants to marry her, or the ATM machine ate her money card or sadly, that one of her students has died. So while my heart aches, all I can do is cry with her over the international phone lines.
It was a lot of work to get her ready to go when she left three years ago. I spent hours on the computer googling everything I could think of from necessary vitamins & over-the-counter medications, clothes to pack, required vaccinations, how she would get money, as well as permethrin.  Don’t forget the permethrin! I soaked and sprayed her sleep sack and clothes in permethrin insecticide to ward off mosquitoes.  I prayed that the chances of keeping her from getting malaria were much higher than the chances of her growing an extra arm or leg. 
This time the research was much easier. I only had to find out how she would get money because Ghana has been placed on the financial watch list since the time Katherine lived there. That meant the Visa travel money card from AAA she used the last time would not work. Katherine’s travel visa and mandatory Yellow Fever vaccination are still good, so I didn’t have any international calls, emails or mailings to make. She also had her own idea about what clothes she would wear and medications she’d bring, so it cut down on my shopping trips too.
I once read that when a woman becomes a mother, she spends the rest of her life with her heart walking around outside her body. Little did I know how true a statement that would be in my life. Right now my heart is walking around Africa…..beating strong to the rhythm of the Ghanaian people, while my body is thousands of miles away.

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