A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.
Well it finally happened and in a way I’m glad it did. My mother had been struggling with Parkinson’s for a long time, it had taken a big toll, she was tired with it and told me she was ready to leave for a better place.
She wasn’t scared just ready if you know what I mean.
During the preparation period, the funeral director asked me what my mother liked to do, what her hobbies were, and honestly after giving it a few moments, I was embarrassed when I couldn’t give an answer.
She lived a simple life and spent most of her time focused on building and nurturing the relationships with her family and friends. After more thought I realized that these were the things that were important to her, and which brought her the most joy. This is what she liked to do, and I guess you could consider it her hobby.
We spend a lot of time on this blog writing about finding your purpose but after realizing the answer to the funeral director’s question, it reminded me that it doesn’t have to be complicated, to have a life that makes you happy. A successful life is about connections with family, friends and neighbours because without people around you it really doesn’t matter how much money you have managed to accumulate, life will feel empty.
Answering that question about my mother will always remind me that real meaning comes from being around and taking care of those you love. Let them know how you feel, I’m lucky I had that opportunity with my mother when she was in the nursing home. She was one of the happiest and kindest people that I knew. I was lucky to have her as a mother.
My mother taught me a lot about retirement and the importance of doing the things that you love now while your healthy enough to do what you want to do. She taught me that whoever makes the most happy memories wins.
My mother was very particular about her appearance and hated looking out of sorts. Even in the nursing home, whether it was a good day or bad day, she had her hair done religiously every Thursday. She would love it when the Contessa would visit, as she knew she would comb her hair and put on some new face cream, which made her feel good.
My mother liked to look “put together” in front of people, period.
The drugs my mother was taking for Parkinson’s would make her hallucinate a lot and many times I didn’t know what I was walking into when I would go visit with her. To check I would ask her how old she was and depending on the answer I would know which decade she was living in at that moment. It used to frustrate her sometimes when she was telling me a story and I would try to explain to her that I didn’t think it was true. The Contessa cautioned me on that because questioning/correcting my mother only frustrated her. She told me I should just play along and become part of the story and when I did that we were able to go on some wonderful adventures together before it was her time.
Spirituality – Hope
I’m not a big church goer like my mother was but I have a sense that we all are part of something much bigger than ourselves and I have experienced things occasionally that only reinforce this feeling.
For example, the day after my father passed away a cat showed up at my mother’s back door and wouldn’t leave. We tried to find the cat’s owner to no avail. That cat would end up staying with my mother for many years and they were inseparable. He would follow her wherever she went and sleep with her at night. She called him boots because of the four white feet that he had. He ended up turning into a very fat cat because of how she loved and spoiled him, as he became her new purpose in life after my father was gone.
I always thought it was a little strange how that cat showed up at that particular time when it was needed most.
Another example is the night my mother passed away in the ER at the hospital. After leaving her room around 10:30 in the evening, I encountered a priest at the exit door who was leaving at the exact same time from another part of the hospital. I asked if he had a few minutes and would not mind coming back to say a few prayers for my mother as she had just passed, which he graciously did. It was as if it was meant to be and having him do that took the sadness away and made me feel good because I knew it was something my mother would of really appreciated. You see in my mind I could see the man upstairs instructing them to send down the express elevator for my mother. There would be no waiting in line for her, she was special, they knew it and so did I.
The gift she left behind
For some reason I’m not afraid about death anymore. I know that my time will come but until then I intend to enjoy every day as much as I can. I know people love me and will miss me when I’m gone just like my mother.
Things that used to bother me, I am now able to let go. I’m finally content with what I have and who I am. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone and that sure feels good to me.
Just like my mother I look for joy in the small things that I do every day.
I know I have only so much time left and knowing that creates a certain urgency to living. You don’t want to waste the precious time that you have left. I’m starting to relax and not get wound up over unimportant things like the guy that cut you off in the morning. Instead I focus on the things that matter and take the time to appreciate things that I never noticed before when I was so busy. The passing of my mother gave me a sudden clear focus and perspective about what’s important and what’s not in my life.
I couldn’t see it before but thanks to my mother now I do.