Much like the Super Bowl, many people look forward to the Olympic Games for the advertisements, those humorous, clever, inspiring, and sometimes even tear-jerking commercials. A few have already been released, and if they are any indication of what the rest of this year’s Olympic Games’ commercials will be like, you can guarantee I will be watching front row center, that is, in the warmth of my family room next to my newly installed fireplace.
One commercial in particular really tugs on my heart strings, just like it did two years ago during the Summer Olympics. Proctor and Gamble titled that commercial two years ago, “Best Job,” and it went on to win a number of awards including an Emmy for best prime-time commercial. Their commercial this year is titled, “Pick Them Back Up,” and is very similar to the previous one; however, I must admit, this one hits me on a much more personal level. While the first commercial had a tear or two running down my cheek as I’m sure was anticipated by the brilliant P&G marketing department, the first time watching this year’s advertisement brought on a spontaneous bout of full-blown sobbing.
The commercial features mothers helping their babies stand up or walk for the first time. It shows moms picking up their young athletes when they fall, brushing them off, and taking care of their wounds. Finally, the commercial shows the moms sitting on the sidelines watching their children, all grown up, succeed. It ends with the phrase, “For teaching us that falling only makes us stronger…Thank you, Mom.” (Cue tears.)
Growing up in an athletic family in general, the Olympic games have always been a much anticipated occasion, but I would say we are definitely more winter game enthusiasts. You see, my mother spent a few years on the ski team at UMass Amherst before joining the ski patrol for another few years. When Poppy—my mom’s father—passed, we commemorated his death the next year with a giant family ski trip. That was my first time on the mountain. I was four.
Every year after that, my family—Me, Mom, Dad, Brother, and Brother—would load up the car and head north for a long weekend on the slopes. We named our first dog Copper after Copper Mountain, Colorado, and the dog we have now, Rossi, after the ski company, Rossignol (It should be mentioned that Rossi was very close to being named Bode after professional skier Bode Miller).
When I was 16, I told my mom I wanted to try snowboarding. Though slightly bummed that all three of her children had switched to the dark side, she complied nevertheless, rented me a snowboard, and signed me up for lessons. I caught on pretty quickly and by next year’s ski trip I was looking to fly. Unfortunately, my skills in reality failed to live up to my dreamy expectations. I crashed, shattering my left ankle and breaking my right knee. I was rushed to the hospital and went in for surgery that night.
While my dad stayed in the condo with my brothers, my mom stayed with me in the hospital. For four days I was in and out of a morphine stupor while my mom didn’t get much sleep at all. About a week later, I was still on heavy doses of painkillers and the current situation had fully settled in, that is, I would be home-schooled and confined to my bed, the couch, or a wheelchair for the next two months.
My mom brought me breakfast in bed and would wheel me around our local mall just to get me out of the house for a few hours. She became an advocate for handicap accessibility, often confronting store and restaurant owners when their walkways were too narrow. She helped me with my rehab exercises after my showers, and when all this sitting around started to give me insomnia, my mom sat up with me in the middle of the night and always managed to get up for work the next morning.
Two months later, my mom was there spotting me when I stood up again for the first time. Another two weeks after that, she was there watching me walk down the stairs in my prom dress, just days after coming off of my crutches. But most importantly, my mom was there at the next year’s ski trip, watching me strap into my board, stand up, and slowly make my way down the mountain. Thanks, Mom.