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Perfect pink present for mom
Judy Sartain, left, poses with her 16-year-old daughter Catherine, middle, and her oldest daughter, Jessica Claar at the beach in Destin, Fla., in September 2012.

Editor’s note: North Hall High School junior Catherine Sartain, 16, wrote this column for her journalism class about Mother’s Day.

Giving gifts has never been my virtue. Some people have the talent to pick out a present and give the person a gift he or she will love and use. My presents to people typically end up being re-gifted or shoved in the back of a closet.

My family members are the ones who typically suffer the most from my failure as a gift-giver. Birthdays are bad, but holidays are worst. Especially Mother’s Day.

What do you get for the woman who has everything? I would fret, worry and shop for a perfect gift.

Although I used to dread Mother’s Day, coincidentally, last year is the only time I was able to give the perfect gift to a mother. And I wasn’t sure I would be able to give it to her.

My mom is the queen of freak accidents. If you’ve heard a story about someone getting hurt in an unusual way, it’s probably about her. She’s had injuries ranging from a run-in with a clothes hamper to bites from spiders living in her shoes. But she’s always been able to bounce back.

So when I found out my mom was hit by a foul ball at my brother’s baseball game, all I expected was a small bump on her head that would heal after a couple of days with a little help from some ice. Everyone had neglected to tell me the ball nearly crushed the side of her skull and clipped an artery. The only reason she didn’t bled out on the sidewalk next to the field was because a doctor and two nurses happened to be there. I didn’t find that out until I was washing our blood-stained dog that had been sitting in her lap and the bloody scarf she was wearing.

The doctors estimated the ball was going about 80 to 90 miles an hour when it hit the side of her head. If she had been looking at the ball directly, she would’ve lost her eye or most likely died from the impact.

What scared me the most about Mother’s Day last year was the fact that my mom might not be there. The accident happened April 22, 2012, and for a month or so, it was like my mom had gone somewhere and left behind a pale, lost shadow of herself. She couldn’t be left alone. She couldn’t drive and she frequently forgot where she was or what she was saying. My brilliant, doctorate-holding mom had been reduced to someone who became panicked and hysterical because she couldn’t remember words or finish sentences. That was the scariest part.

But eventually, against all odds, she got better. And I ashamedly admit for the first month or so, I didn’t think she would.

She went to physical therapy for hours a week and eventually got to the point where she could walk without falling and go up stairs again. The speech therapy helped erased all the stuttering and hesitations in her speech, and once again she could have the last word in all conversations.

The doctors say now she is 90 percent back. Hopefully, that number will grow.

I completely forgot about Mother’s Day last year as it was about a month after the accident. But my mom didn’t forget. She insisted on dressing up in her Sunday best and eating lunch with our family.

It actually took seeing her sitting there and laughing with my family to help me finally realize everything was going to be OK and she was going to get better. My thoughts were confirmed when she threw her head back and laughed at the bright pink baseball helmet I got her for Mother’s Day.

As Mother’s Day comes around once again this year, my mom’s flamingo pink helmet has a reserved seat in the trunk of her car, ready to be pulled out for early mornings and late nights at the baseball field. Stubborn as always, my mom refuses to let anything keep her away from the sport she has loved her whole life. There is hardly a Gainesville Middle School baseball game that she can’t be seen right behind the fence at homeplate with her helmet.

Although in future years there may be bigger or more expensive gifts I give to my mom, my favorite will always be the tacky pink baseball helmet.