Sitting like a little kid, with her legs straight out in front of her, she was shock-white, with glazed- eyes seeing nothing. The webbing between her left hand first finger and thumb …

You Are My Only One

My mother and I got into a huge argument during my senior-year spring break. We disagreed so vehemently that after three days, we were still at a ragingly fierce stand-off. The tension between us was so tangible you could pick it up and chew on it.

She and I were usually pretty tight, so to have her at such an emotional distance was devastating.

On the morning of the fourth day, on a whim, I asked if I could go with her to that day’s job site — she was a well-respected horticultural landscape designer.

As we drove to the site, I swallowed my position of Righteous Teenager Who Knows All, and told her I was so sorry, and that I wanted peace between us.

She almost ran us off the road she was so shocked — to get a concession like that from me, the I’m-Right-and-Hold-My-Opinions-Forever Queen, was momentous.

She very graciously thanked me and grabbed my hand. She wasn’t a particularly touchy-nice-nice person, so I was surprised. I felt my heart leap into my throat and do its best to choke me. I was too young to really grasp the depth of her gesture, but I sure felt it.

I had really hated to concede, but I hated the animosity even worse. I was so glad I’d said I was sorry.

We held hands the whole rest of the 20-minute drive.

When we got to the site, we hugged and separated — I’d been there before, and instead of watching her work, I wanted to check out the orchard. It was getting close to summer — apples, pears, cherries — such beautiful flowers and scents.

Not too much later, I heard a funny kind of ‘clompf!’ and a string of curses that would make even a sailor blush. My ma hated swearing — but boy could she produce a brilliant blue line of cusses if she’d been aggravated enough.

I found her in the grass under a rose bush she’d been trimming. Sitting like a little kid, legs straight out in front of her, hands in her lap. One hand carefully cradling the other like a precious kitten.

She was shock-white, glazed- eyes seeing nothing. The webbing between her left hand first finger and thumb gaped wide open and was gushing a fountain of blood.

The call for help, the ride to the hospital, the whole doctor thing, getting home again — all of that is a blur.

What is electric-fire-seared into my memory is not just how terrified I was, but also how full I felt, how sweet it was, to hold her and comfort her and get her to safety — how precious it felt to me that I could do that for her.

I’m not quite sure how to articulate it, but

She became more than ‘just’ my mom to me —
it was more like MY Mother.

That one decision to come along that day was quite possibly a life-saver. I don’t know if she’d have been able to pop out of shock and go for help, and I don’t know if anyone on her team had heard her cussing.

But I did. I heard her.

A seemingly small decision to come along that day had such enormous consequences.


I’m curious — what about you?

What tiny deviation of path, sudden alternate decision, led to surprising consequences in your own life? How did it turn out for you?

How does it affect you now, and your ability to keep on keeping on, no matter what?


Thanks so much for reading my story. I hope it lit you up. Or maybe it inspired you, or made you curious, or gave you a new perspective with which to view and appreciate your own life. Or maybe take on a new exciting scary fun adventure! That’s my wish.



© Angela Treat Lyon 2002
text © Angela Treat Lyon 2023

If you’d like a print of You Are My Only One, please contact me.

This is an enhanced version of the same story in my book, INSIDE SECRETS: Stories I’ve Never Told Anyone — Adventures. You can get the whole ebook at, or in print on amazon.


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