Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Mom's 82nd

Today is my mother's 82nd birthday.

Were you to ask her, she likely would recall that her birthday falls on this day, although I highly suspect that she would not recall that today is that day, just as she can still tell you the town and county she lives in, but only because she has lived there almost all of her life.

Were it any other year than the last two, we would call at some point in the evening - and, per usual, probably miss them as they would be out with my sister and her family celebrating.  We would likely leave a message on the phone to get a call back later and pass the phone around the house, so that she and TB the Elder could catch up with everyone.  The next time we would see them, we would likely go out to dinner and bring a card and a small gift.

There is nowhere to call now as the phone is disconnected and even were I to call the place they are now living, she likely would not recognize my voice, nor have need of anything we might bring.

I have always credited my mother with a great deal of how I have ended up in life.  She was a reader, and so reading was encouraged and I became a reader.  She was inevitably kind, and so she taught me kindness.  She was almost always non-confrontational (almost always), and so I learned - painfully at times - that confrontation does not solve everything the way the world thinks it does and that it costs nothing to listen.  She was a lover of God in a quiet, unassuming, unpretentious way and so I became one as well - even when at times I went way off on my own, she never said a word but patiently waited for God to bring me back.

If I really think about it - and I hate to do so - the last conversation I had with mother as my mother was probably three years ago.  By the time that I was able to go back on a more frequent basis, the person I was visiting with - pleasant, quiet, often patiently sitting and waiting for my father to tell her what they were doing or where they were going next - was in meaningful ways a faint echo of who she was.

I find myself conflicted, torn between a great sadness and something which for which the word "frustration" only mildly describes the un-muttered rage within my soul at the outcome.  This is not the way things were supposed to work.  This, it feels like, is a colossal waste of a good person.

But right after that conflict comes up, an immediate second thought follows on, the one that says "She cannot, but you still can".  She cannot be the person that she was, with all of her good qualities simply because in real ways, she is not that person now. She is still herself, but those things are now beyond here.

They are not, however, beyond me.  And I cannot be so blind or foolish to believe that in a world that is as much filled as it ever was with discord, ill will, misunderstanding, and sometimes outright evil that practicing learning, kindness, listening, and loving God by being are things which are not needed now or more so as they have always been.  

Perhaps that, then, becomes the birthday present I can give to someone that has no need for anything else.

Happy 82nd Birthday, Mom.

 

14 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:04 AM

    You honor your Mom when you continue living the attitude she taught you. And teaching others of what you were taught spreads that even more. Thank you for sharing that with the rest of us.

    Life comes at us so quickly and from all directions, people have little time to reflect on where they are on the journey. Only to look up and find the journey is nearly over and the destination is right up ahead.

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    1. You are quite welcome, and thank you for the kind comments. She was a teacher in real life, so I suppose in some ways this is just an extension of the the life she lived.

      Life does come much more quickly than we anticipate. I was reminded of this years ago, but am constantly re-reminded that the time to do things - any sort of thing - is now. Tomorrow is not vouchsafed us.

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  2. That is a very important subject. Over and over you give me things to ponder, and to apply. I'd never thought about honoring your father and mother by adopting and living their Godly attitude. How amazing.

    Happy birthday, Mom TB. Your son is quite the gift you have given to those of us that 'know' him.

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    1. Thank you STxAR. I have to confess the thought had never really "occurred" to me until I wrote it - but it makes sense when I thought about it. In some way or shape when I see them, I am hopeful that it will shine through.

      Thank you also for the kind birthday wishes for my mother.

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  3. My mom died at 62 so I never got to experience this stage in her life and can't offer any meaningful words for you. But I do know that I have taken up some of my mom's causes because they make me feel good and remind me of her. She is remembered and that is the best I can do.

    Happy Birthday to your mom.

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    1. Ed, we are on a similar road then. That makes me feel all the better.

      Thank you on her behalf for the birthday wishes.

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  4. This is a lovely post and a good reflection on how your mother raised you. Speaking as a mother, I would be pleased to have my birthday honored with such words.

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    1. Thank you very much Kelly. That means a lot.

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  5. Anonymous8:58 AM

    That was by far the most beautiful thing I have read today. Just thought you should know.

    Happy Birthday to your mother & best wishes to you.

    KA

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    1. Thank you very much KA. And on behalf of my mother, thank you for the birthday wishes.

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  6. Before The Plague, I was a part-time companion/caregiver for an elderly lady with dementia. She is now frail and in a nursing home, but she remains the sweetest spirit I have ever known. My own mother experienced some amount of dementia in her final years (or perhaps it was the chemo, or later medication she was on), but she did not live terribly long with it. Oddly, at the end of her life the pain of cancer brought back some clarity, or so it seemed. It was heartbreaking, and traumatic for all. That was also a long time ago.

    More recently, caring for my elderly friend made me a believer that loving those who can't fully love us back or fully comprehend or acknowledge our care of them is Heaven's work.

    And yes, practicing and being those things you listed is an honorable birthday gift to your mother. She is blessed.

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    1. Thank you for sharing Becki - and I am sorry for the loss of your mother. Occasionally we still see sparks of the parents we remember, even if few and far between.

      "Loving those who can't fully love us back or fully comprehend or acknowledge our care of them is Heaven's work" - that is a profound statement, one of the most profound I have seen or read this week. Thank you for sharing - I need to ponder it.

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