other mothers, a taxi driver, and a plan

I’ve spoken about Jack’s “other mothers” in the past. A small group of women who Jack adores and who we trust with our most prized and fragile gift — JackO. Each of these women have become family and each has helped me every bit as much as they’ve helped Jack.

Last weekend when Monica arrived to hang with Jack for a few hours, she noticed right away that I was not myself. I shared that I was feeling a little off and she pondered if there was something in the air lately. She too had been feeling a little blue and told me that she’d been spending time listening to wellness speakers and reading inspirational books. 

She shared something she’d heard and found motivating.

When you get in a taxi, you need to tell the driver where you’re going. If you don’t, they might be willing to drive you around, but it’s unlikely to get you to where you want to go. Even if it does eventually get you there, it’s not a direct route and can be expensive. “Words are powerful, Jess. Find the words for where you want to go.”


As soon as she shared that story, Monica started putting on Jack’s shoes and left me there thinking as she took Jack to Wendy’s to pick up some bacon-double-cheeseburgers. She had no idea that she had given me the last kick I needed to make a big change.

I sat down on the living-room couch and asked myself to figure out the words for where I wanted to be in five years. The words were right in front of me. I then called my mother and told her what I was thinking — I told her my words (I know I’m 50, but she will always be my goto person when I’m struggling). She said, “I think that it’s a dandy idea. Move forward Tates. Don’t let anything stand in your way.”  I spoke to Dan who told me he was proud of me and supported me 100%. By the time Monica and Jack returned to the house with their greasy fingers and full bellies, I was on the computer researching master’s programs. By next week, my applications to get a MA in Counseling will be complete and I’m hoping to start in January.

Truthfully, I’m not usually a person who believes in everything happening for a reason and that the world makes much sense. I’m more practical and believe that life is usually a mess and it’s our responsibility to make the most of it. Either way, Monica’s words hit me in an unexpected way and I am grateful. I’m ready for my next chapter now and I am relieved to finally have a plan. I’m aware that I haven’t actually been excepted into any program, but my words are out there so what could go wrong?😏

I’m fifty. I’m a wife and a mother and a friend. I’m a writer and a photographer and teacher. I’m also a special needs mother who’s passionate about working with other parents who are struggling to find their way. And, here’s what I’ve discovered folks — I’m also a taxi driver. Thank you Monica!!!!!

Love, Jess

I searched the internet trying to find the source of the taxi story. I couldn’t, but I did find this one.

“Life is like a taxi. The meter just keeps a-ticking whether you are getting somewhere or just standing still. — ” Lou Erickso

And of corse, I’ve always loved this one.

“I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe. But at least I’m enjoying the ride, at least I’ll enjoy the ride.” — The Grateful Dead

One more thing — Peter is included as one of Jack’s other mothers.

4 thoughts on “other mothers, a taxi driver, and a plan

  1. Hi Jess,
    I’ve been reading your emails for a couple year after I read your book about your ALD experience. I am a grandmother of 2 ALD children one is female and the other a male. Thankfully his ALD was diagnosed in time and he made it through the horrific medical bone marrow transplant that sustained his life.
    I am so grateful to you for using your God-given talent to write a book about your family’s personal experience. Your book was so well written. That is why I continue to read your emails. I am hoping you will write another book someday!
    Last week, I was excited when my daughter Ruth (we live in Idaho) told me she met you! I think it was through a zoom ALD meeting! She had just come back from her trip to the children’s hospital in Minnesota where they evaluate Helio’s progress since he had the transplant 6 years ago.
    I’m so glad to hear you are pursuing a master’s degree in counseling. Without a doubt, I believe you will achieve your goal successfully! I am also looking forward to reading another book you’ll hopefully write in the future.
    My greetings to your family.
    Best wishes,
    Mary Gutierrez (Helio’s grandmother)


    • Your note means the world to me. Sometimes I wonder why I’m sharing everything and if it is really helping. It’s one reason that I want to go back to school and work face to face with people. BUT, I have been working on another book — It might take a while, but it will come. I loved meeting Ruth on the call – you should join us next time!

      Sending love to your entire family. ALD — crappy disease/amazing people!


  2. Hey Jess, good for you! I was about your age when I went back for my Master’s in Special Ed and then went on to have a new career that I enjoyed for 15+ years. If that is your interest, hop in that taxi and go. I heard Montclair State has a good program and so does Kean. Good luck, let me know if you need any help.


  3. Way to go, Jess. I went “back to school” at 50 and got my bachelor’s degree, kept going and by 54 had my Master’s. So the “finger” to the guidance counselor when I was in high school telling my mother “she’s not college material.” You are an inspiration.


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