Photo by JESHOOTS.com
Mom and I tried to deny our disappointment. This year her Mother’s Day was supposed to be spent with all three of her children. A drive to northern California would draw us together for a shared lunch after a year of dramatic and frightening health scares. But hours before leaving, another health issue arose, and we were forced to cancel.
For two days Mom and I tried pretending it didn’t matter. We told ourselves we could plan the journey for another time. But Saturday before Mother’s Day, reality hit. My denial had dipped into discouragement, and I called Mom and asked if she wanted to go on a little outing.
“Yes! What do you have in mind?”
That’s Mom. First “yes” to a spontaneous adventure, then the details.
We headed to our favorite Mexican restaurant, and as we walked in, I took her hand and requested she not care if we left food on our plates. She understood and agreed to ignore her Depression-era tendency not to waste food.
In recent years, especially, I’ve loved peppering Mom with questions about her life well lived. At 93 I didn’t know how many more Mother’s Days we’d have together, and I felt the urgency to make this one count.
I began by seeking her advice about my current dreams, wondering if she saw them as a reasonable stretch. Of course, she was full of encouragement.
We ate until we were full and happily left the platter still covered with bits of cheese, beans, chicken and sauces.
We finished our lunch but we weren’t ready to call an end to our precious time. Occasionally, the reality hits me that This Woman (along with my two siblings) are the ones on this earth who’ve known me my whole life. Somehow that feels significant.
Photo: Aksonsat Uanthoeng
So instead of heading north to go back home, we headed west to… who really cares? We were together, and the distraction technique was working. Our California trip disappointment was fading as we simply enjoyed one another’s presence.
As we slowly drove through the beautiful tree covered hills along the Row River and Dorena Lake, I continued my questions. Something deep inside of me longs for Mom not to take to the grave anything that I should know before that day comes.
I ask her about the places she has lived and if she had a favorite. Mom, an adventurer at heart and always prone to see the positive of every situation, had a hard time choosing one. I’m so grateful she put words on her ponderings.
“I loved the smell of the pines in Paradise, CA.”
“The weather in Alameda was perfect.”
“The hot summers and freezing winters were brutal in Ralston, NE, but the friendships were wonderful.”
“Washington DC – my first sad time away from all family, but how can you compare the sightseeing to anywhere else?”
“I’ve loved living in Eugene in these later years – so beautiful, great experiences and near family.”
“But it was in Shelley, Idaho that I grew most….” She said it slowly, confidently, sure that this place more than any other had determined the way she would live the rest of her life.
Photo; Eberhard Grossgasteiger
Mom grew up in Pocatello and spent her twenties in Idaho Falls, the place her three children were born. But when we were still young (ages 2, 4, 8), we moved to a little town between the two. Shelley was small – not just in population but in a mindset. Most everyone was Mormon, not a faith our family shared. Many were related to each other. Mom – and our family – was an outsider. Shelley was the place Mom faced the differences and embraced her own identity.
Photo: Darwis Alwan
I lived in Shelley from ages two to ten. I was too young and self-involved to realize the internal challenges and growth my Mom was experiencing. The way her personal beliefs deepened, the way she chose to love and accept others while not being swayed.
I discovered the source of this amazing love-people-as-they-are mentality about my precious Mom this Mother’s Day. It required me to reach out, take time, ask questions and then… listen.
Today I realize the parallel between this rich and enlightening experience to the discoveries I want to make about God. And I discovered another reason to “Be still and know that I am God.”
Reach out. Take time. Ask questions. Listen. They demand an intentional stillness.
The reward is unspeakable joy.
TO CONSIDER: What step could you take today to learn something new about God?