Friday, March 7, 2008

Peace and joy in the here and now.

Sometimes, I like to make the easy difficult. My cyber gap turned out to be easily remedied, but I thought I could do it myself without calling my provider.

LOL -- I had all the steps right, but I didn't have the timing right.

A few minutes on the phone and voila! I'm connected.

We are in the process of cleaning out my mother's apartment in preparation for her big move into a lodge. The other night I spent a couple of hours going through cupboards, sorting, packing, ditching and reminiscing. The journey backwards through time was precipitated by the 15+ photo albums I found in one cupboard.

It is very hard to sort through my mother's life, particularly as we are doing it without her there.

This is a very difficult move for my mother. She believes it represents the loss of her 'life', her independence, her identity.

Looking through those photo albums, I didn't see the loss of 'life', I saw a vibrant, colourful, rich and varied life. A life filled with people, family, friends, special events and quiet moments.

But it was tough.

So many photos. So many moments. So much history.

My mother was/is a very beautiful woman. I looked at photos of her when we were kids and she was absolutely stunning. A huge smile, bright brown eyes, black as night hair. Petite. Delicate.

As I looked through the albums I kept looking at her smile. I don't remember her smile. I remember her tears, her sadness, her fears.

Perhaps it is my memory that has overshadowed the truth of who my mother is. Perhaps it is my pain that riddles her past with regret like acid rain permeating deep waters of a lake.

In the past two months my mother has been in a care facility to work on her depression. They've taught her tools to deal with her emotions. Given her affirmations to shore up her self-esteem.

We've witnessed the change. Seen the difference it's made in how she deals with situations. Sure, she still has outbursts, but she displays greater self-control. And still, I hold my breath, waiting. Wondering. Worrying about when she'll strike again. When will she lash out at me. When will she latch onto an issue and dig the needle of her anger under my skin like a tic burrowing under a dog's fur.

It's time for me to breathe. To let the then and there go so that I can move freely in the here and now, accepting my mother as she is today, not as she was back then, or as I remember her back then. It's time for me to quit competing with memories need for a place to hold onto in fear of letting go of my critical assessment of her. It's time to breathe deeply and move fearlessly into love.

This is a difficult move for my mother. She is displaying great courage. She may not be moving with total grace and ease into this change, but she is moving as gracefully as she can. If she displays emotion, it is because this is an emotional situation.

To pack up her things, I must set my emotions aside and focus on the task at hand. To help my mother move with grace and ease into her new living situation, I must breathe into my emotions and give room for hers to surface without engaging in mine. I must focus on what she needs, not on telling her what I think she needs or wants.

Dale Carnegie said it best, "Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving."

It's time for me to dive into my character and fall in love with my mother exactly as she is today.

The question is: Where does memory keep you in the there and then, battling against finding peace and joy in the here and now?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is really hard to lose your sense of independence, no matter what age you may be....but I think that the elderly have it the hardest.

After living their life , making choices for themselves, and then to lose that after be the adult, and having to revert to being "child-like" again, and others making your choices for you...that would be really hard for anyone to live with.

I am proud of you Louise, for reaching out to your mother, and trying to make different choices in your journey with her now, rather than continuing on the same cycle that you have been in the past. That takes courage and inner strength.

Celebrate life each day, as you never know when it may change on you.