Mom has been visiting me for a week or so now. In keeping with our tradition,the time during dinner or later is spent considering the mysteries and jewels of life. At four-score and something, she is more interested in learning than offering the wisdom of generations of experience. She does that too, but her curiosity always trumps her need to jive memoirs or wax nostalgic of “back in the day” (which I also dig).
“Always have something to look forward to.” Patti Keyser
Mom and Dad didn’t have a lot of those lines that became a staple of their conversation from my youth to adulthood (whatever that is). But this line has been a part of mom’s counsel since I can remember. In the midst of a conversation about relationships and politics and my continuing education and who remembers what else (we were well into a bottle of Pinot), she smiled and said, “Always have something to look forward to.”
I paused and appreciated the gift of optimism. I’ve been called an eternal optimist, an idealist, a prototype for ‘rose colored glasses,’ and even once, a Pollyanna. In her role as the Maternal Optimist, she has been reminding me all week –unbeknownst to her — that life has great possibilities. Hell, she is working on her next decade.
As we discussed her new interest in yoga and her desire to return to painting, she said to me, “I need a plan. Will you help me with one?”
I can only only hope that thirty-six years from now that I have a plan for the next ten.
Joy in the little things is what was to be my lesson from her this week. I had to drive to one of our hospitals about a hundred miles away this week. I offered to have her join me and to drop her off at a mall for a hair style and some shopping while I attended meetings. She enthusiastically accepted. But you see, the mall and the shopping didn’t matter much; she told me she was just looking forward to the drive. On the way home, I was talking about the features on my iPhone (which she was uber interested in for a moment). She listened for a moment and then drew my attention to a really cool cloud formation and went on and on about the color and the shape. “I’ve never seen a pattern like that,” she said. Later that night, I spoke of the beautiful Napa Valley varietal we enjoyed after dinner. Mom was fascinated in the recycled glass wine glasses we drank from. We skipped primetime drama shows in order to watch and virtually empathize with those whose lives were entirely changed by an angry storm. We talked of our country’s resilience, despite storms and whomever occupies the White House. I stayed on the porch and reflected on simple joy…a life less complicated.
My thoughts were drawn to the generation two down from mom. My hope (already very high) was Red Bulled.
My nephew, David, pastors youth and travels any chance he gets to war torn regions of the world to build things…to grow things…buildings, hearts, spirits. My niece teaches. She teaches those with challenges. Like most teachers, she is part educator, part therapist, part advocate, and all in! Their mom (my sister) is another one of those what’s-right-with-the-world people. ALWAYS looking at possibilities and not barriers. It carries.
My daughter pulls from her formal education and her experience in poverty immersed villages in Nepal to offer counsel and compassion to those who struggle with demons of the mind and spirit. Her smile crushes the most aggressive cynicism. And my son studies night and day and then attends his clinicals in preparation of a life dedicated to healing. His scientific mind mixed with his Montana-sized heart for people will make healthcare better.
You see, my point in this epic post is this: I look around me…at this group of DNA, and think of just how much there is to look forward to. I think we are in good and capable hands. I have so much to look forward to. This new and full life. Full of unknowns and joys and mysteries to be solved or at least observed.
Thanks, Mom. Love always.