It’s funny and ironic how much I have to teach my own mom. But the irony isn’t simply a reflection of the circle of life but this: as I speak the words of some lesson to her it’s as though some imaginary mirror rises up in front of me and I am in turn speaking them to me.
My mom routinely says (nowadays), “I don’t have friends here (in my town where she now lives).”
Today’s lesson was not my first time saying it but today she heard me (at least for now).
LESSON: IF YOU WANT TO HAVE FRIENDS, YOU HAVE TO BE A FRIEND.
Here are the ways you have not been a friend, mom:
So these harsh words and lessons came from me today to my mom, but they were also a reflection upon me.
Seeing the similarity might be a stretch, but I see it. Here it is:
As the second accessibility driver picked us up today, he spoke of music making his day go by better. Then he sang along loudly with the music coming from his phone (but it was good music). I knew my mom couldn’t hear him over the commotion of the vehicle and the other sounds, so it was just affecting me. Then a voice said let him have this moment. Be kind. So I did. Soon I let go and sang right along with him, loudly. I could sense it was making his day. For that moment, at that time, I felt okay. I let myself enjoy the music. I let him be right instead of my want to be right. I’ve been practicing this a lot. I have RIGHT-ITIS. I love being right and know er’thang. Jesus, save your girl. Before my whole ”be a friend” lecture to my mom, at that moment today it occurred to me that I could be a friend by practicing being friendly.
I also saw this lesson in me as more than just want friends be a friend, I saw it within me and my journey as a creative. There is a lot I want: to book that fabulous gig, to build a brand, to gain an audience, to be in demand, to build a series, to produce and direct again and again. The word BE is all over my wants lists: BE, BE, BE, girl, BE!!!!
As I sat at my mom’s feet as she made phone calls to old friends and new friends, I coached her on being a friend and not a burden. She was successful with most (sadly except for one). The folks on the other end of the line were happy to hear from her and happy she could hear them and that she listened. She succeeded today.
Now I sit here typing this and reflecting on myself.
THE SPARK THAT GOT MY MOM MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION TODAY.
You got to check in. Don’t check out.
Mom, for the last two months I have taken you to a lot of doctor appointments. And you are doing well. We caught that infection. Your neurologist says you’re doing better than before. You’re in the care of a great ophthalmologist for your only working eye. You’re up-to-date on your flu shot. We have your new walker prescription. You go to Tai Chi once a week. You have two new pain doctors. Your body is doing good. But your will is fading. You’re quickly checking out on the want to BE well, to live. And at this rate, you’ll get what you want probably as soon as Christmas. Your body will be healthy but your mind will go. You have to decide to check in or keep checking out.
Why did I say this?
On our way to Tai Chi this morning, she couldn’t remember a name of someone and began her regular monologue of this old bad memory of mine. I asked her about her brothers and sister, their children, the day of the week, when she plays bridge next, why are some days canceled at bridge this week. She answered all perfectly, then laughed. She realized then that her memory was actually pretty good.
So, I said, your “old bad memory” works. The lesson then was about attention and intention (geez, now I get what Wayne Dyer was talking about as I write this). My mom’s initial attention magnified the one thing she forgot then she quickly sank into metaphorical quicksand of anxiety and doom. And her intention was to accept this old memory that she says is BAD. For the time being, she got it.
Again, that mirror has shot up in front of me as I write now, and as I spoke then. I see me in all of this.
So now I am here wondering if my mom is actually here so I can take care of her, or is she here so I can take care of me?
I'm just writing to keep from losing it.