As I sit outside at the local café sipping an ice-cold Coca-Cola the sparking ice cubes and bubbling carbonation give a much-needed calm to my senses. “It’s The Real Thing”, reads my wilting red and white paper cup. Ah, yes! The heat, the thirst, the dryness all seem to fizzle away with each passing sip. But is this soft drink “the real thing”? It’s hard to know what is real anymore, but I have to admit, it’s not Coca-Cola. It’s parking lot moms.
Yes, you read that correctly, parking lot moms! The PLMs! On the surface we sweat pant, slipper-ladened ladies dropping off our STAR for the morning van ride to Wellspring, hardly seem awake, let alone real. Afternoon pick up seemingly offers less as we moms in one quick motion, smooth on lip gloss, put groceries and packages in the back seat, and negotiate with the insurance intern on the phone. However, what is striking, is somehow through the routine, through the cumbersome loading and unloading, emerges laughter, friendship and community.
Wellspring provides day programs for our adult children, and yet it should not be overlooked that the organization offers the opportunity to build wonderful relationships between parents and families of the STARS, as well. After programming went solely on-line, the time for parking lot moms to connect was just one more casualty of COVID. Fortunately, we had a PLM who offered to host a weekly Zoom meeting just for moms; we all jumped at the chance.
Our conversations cover a multitude of common topics: our children, husbands, pets, cooking, shopping, exercise, faith and a bit of the world news. But before you quit on us, we have also discussed BB guns, dog pee, chicken manure, delivering babies the Italian way, and the Eucharist. We’ve celebrated birthdays, graduations and a rocket landing at the ISS. Lunch with Chick-Fil-A included. We’ve voiced support to those of us who have unpacked their college kids’ suitcases, and to those who have moved their adult children out-of-state for new jobs. As time has gone by, we comfortably share how our parent’s battle with dementia ended, how to best treat cancer, and how to keep our special needs children engaged in life during a world-wide pandemic. Of course, we pray together and recognize God’s guidance, God’s love and His provisions for us.
The real pleasure in all of this has been that the time, the sharing and the friendship have been cherished. The result of one person hosting a meeting, a lunch, or a drive-by has been a wellspring of hope. Perhaps this testimony will inspire you to reach out and share the beauty of life with someone. Encouragement, support and love grows when we open ourselves up to that very possibility. Another reminder of what our children teach us.
This is “The Real Thing”. The thirst for understanding and friendship is satisfied. The dryness of isolation is overcome and the heat of living so close to the edge of life is dissipated. Wellspring is a wonderful community that is cherished and fruitful because of its people. It is “The Real Thing”.