May is for Mothers

May. 24, 2022

By Leilah Grace

May is for mothers. Mothers come in all forms, from our birth mothers, to our chosen mothers, and to our own Mother Earth. We can take this month to celebrate them in all their forms. My mother is the quiet one, if you know her you know that she smiles and chats, but my father is the one that dominates the room, and if not then it’s me. Though she may be quiet she taught me many things, from the basics of cooking, baking, and sewing, to persistence, hard work, and dedication. To caring for people, to encouraging people, and how to support someone working on their dreams. In her quietness is strength and love. I learned all of that from her and I am honored to be able to use so many of those skills in my work with the APT. Countless meals I have cooked for my family have ended up being dehydrated for Rue, sewing a cozy, and repairing rips in gear for him are just a few of the tangible lessons.

I joined Rue and the APT project wanting to help someone accomplish their dream, a seemingly impossible task, one in which I had no real experience other than accomplishing my own nearly impossible dream. I supported Rue because I knew he needed assistance and I wanted to support someone in the way I had been supported. My mother encouraged me to pursue different activities, was there supporting me, and then when I began working towards my doctoral degree she was there again, supporting and encouraging me and my growing family. Rue and the APT was my opportunity to give that support to someone else; honoring the support my mother gave me and her. This month I honor her, the other mothers in my life, and in continuing my work with the APT I honor Mother Earth. While we speak of a trail, a footpath, this trail would not exist with the protected area which we envision. A sacred space where Mother Earth is honored and protected, celebrated, and also enjoyed.

Our conservation corridor of which we dream is becoming a reality, as we move closer to Rue finishing the first scouting hike the work continues, and my support will change. Resupply boxes will no longer need to be filled on a regular basis, nor an amazon list updated, as well as my daily check-ins on the weather near where Rue would be hiking. My efforts will be directed into other tasks, and my dedication and love for the project will still be present. In our transition phase I continue to think of my mother who directed our family through 7 moves in my childhood, and more as an adult. Each move, each change that we completed taught me to embrace change and be flexible, all necessary in my work with the APT. As this month comes to a close I thank my mother for the life lessons and I thank Mother Earth for the gifts she provides.

Leilah, her daughter Sophia, and Leilah’s mom Linda at Shenandoah National Park

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