This year on Mother’s Day I want to share a story about my mom. Moms have a special place in our hemophilia community. My mom spent countless nights with me in the emergency room and at our treatment center helping get me through bleeds and infusions. She always wanted to protect me and keep me safe but at the same time, she let me live the life I wanted. I’m sure this was a struggle and gave her anxiety, she tells me that all her grey hairs are my fault, but I have to say, I’m really glad she faced her fears and let me live my life.
Since I began my Quest for the Seven Summits I know more of those grey hair have popped up. The anxiety of waiting to hear if I safely made it to the summit of some of the craziest peaks in the world must be unbearable. I don’t think my mom really understands why I want to climb these peaks and what drives me. Honestly, I don’t think most people get it. They see all the dangers and exhaustion and don’t understand how a sane person would want to put themselves through that.
That was until last summer when my mom and dad climbed a 14’er with my wife and I. Colorado is home to some amazing scenery, fantastic wildlife, and 54 mountains over 14,000 feet high, affectionately known as 14’ers. The peaks range from easier hikes to multi-day backpacking trips, but nothing is really easy about getting to the summit of a 14’er. We decided on climbing Mt. Bierstadt, one of the beginner climbs.
Starting our climb just after sunrise, we went slow to prevent altitude sickness, took a break every hour to drink water and eat some food, and I explained some techniques to make the climb easier. As we approached the summit, the terrain became a rock scramble and finding the trail was a bit more difficult. I went ahead and tried to pick the easiest path. Before we knew it we arrived at the summit! It was such a great experience! Seeing the excitement on my parents’ faces let me know that they understand why I climb…at least a little more .
We had to leave the summit shortly after arriving and eating our lunch. The notorious afternoon thunderstorms of Colorado were building to the west and I could tell they would reach us soon. I didn’t want us to be above tree line when the storm hit and the lightning came. We would have no where to hide and could be dangerous. As we started down the mountain we ended up hiking in rain and hail, but we missed the lightning. It was a relief to get back to the car and relax and as we drove back to Denver and reflected on the climb.
Having a burger and beer after climbing is always a treat, but chatting with my mom and dad after the climb was amazing. My mom said “After seeing you on the mountain and how safe and aware of your surroundings you are, I am much more comfortable with you climbing.” That meant the world to me. I always tried to explain that I am smart on the mountain and not taking any unnecessary risks; however, it was more fun and impactful to show her!
As I prepare to climb Mt. Rainier, and the rest of the Seven Summits, I know my mom is worried about me and my safety. I get that. It is my hope that she can now relate to my climbing. She has seen the draw that I have towards the mountains and the connection I have to these incredible places, as well as the personal challenges. She as experienced first hand the rush and sense of accomplishment climbing can give a person. And even though I know it’s hard for her, I know she is proud of me.
I never would have made it where I am today without my mom. We had our ups and downs but I thank her for everything she has done for me. It takes really strong people to raise someone with a chronic condition, and I feel guilty at times for all the stress I have caused her. Thank you mom for believing in me and allowing me to become the man I always dreamed of being. I love you and Happy Mother’s Day!