Friday, January 22, 2010


In about 15 minutes, I leave to pick up my mother.  We "do lunch" about once a week.  I don't even think about these times without reflecting on Pam's chapter with her mom last year.

My mom may outlive us all.  She's a feisty 88 years young but she's getting more frail each week and month.  She's happier today than I've ever known her in my life.  About 12 years ago, she moved from my home town (where she lived for nearly 70 years) to a senior apartment in the town where we live.  I suppose most people think she moved to be closer to me but her real reasons for moving were: 1) she was "done" with that small town, 2) she wanted to simplify her life (sell her house, etc.) and, 3) as her luck would have it, she lives on the 10th floor of a rent controlled senior residence with a gorgeous mountain view.  She's living today a life that she had only dreamed of a few years ago with lots of senior activities and a bunch of fellow curmudgeons that can always find something or someone to gripe about.

As I've pointed out in a few previous articles, we all get a kick out of the fact that, if you ask her, the biggest problem she has today is that her son (me) doesn't come to visit her often enough.  In fact, she will probably let you know that even if you don't ask her.

I have understood it for a number of years that this part of our life is not at all about me doing whatever it would take to please her.  I have a lifetime of experience and numbers of AA inventories to assure me of the futility of that.  What I get is the great privilege to do what I can to be "complete" with her.

A few years ago, a spiritual guide shared that, when he made his amends to his mom, she stopped him and said: "Son, all I've ever wanted for you in my life was for you to be 'happy'."  So, for 30 years, he stopped by her house every Sunday and was "happy" - regardless what was going on with him and his life. That's the model that I strive to follow.

My sponsor and I had a long chat Wednesday night.  We covered an area of my life where I've suffered great frustration for at least 20 years.  It is at the core of my identity.  After a thorough discussion of the truth around my frustration, we talked at some length about St. Francis.  We talked way too much for my comfort about "giving with without expectation."  We both came to the conclusion that I can't do that.  I've never been able to do that and will likely never be able to do it.  So, unless God changes something fundamental in me and my universe, it will never change - I will die a selfish death as a result of my alcoholism.

So today, mom and I will have a perfect lunch.  As is our style, we might wind up spending the whole afternoon on the quest of the next great health aid.  I will probably hear more about bowel movements and aches than I ever intended to hear.  I will get to adore her enough that she can't escape the fact that she is special and loved.

(later - couldn't finish without being late)

Our "mission" today was to have included lunch and then run an errand to her doctor's office.  Imagine our shock when after we'd successfully beat the lunch rush by getting there at little before noon, we finished lunch and realized the doctor's office was closed from noon to 2pm.  What to do?

We got 3 plastic glasses she needed at the dollar store (3 for a dollar), went to 2 grocery stores to get the pumpkin she wanted, went for a quick drive into the foothills to see the deer, got her pills at the doctor's office (yes, they're the same ones carried at probably 20 other stores in our town) and went to her place so that I could open her jars of sauerkraut and beets.  It was a pretty typical day with mom.

The same spiritual guide that I mentioned before talked about his frustration when his elderly father would have him drive all over Denver so that he could cash in his free battery coupons at Radio Shack - one battery at each store.  He never really used many (if any) of the batteries but he was the battery go-to guy for the family.  My guide was complaining about these incredible monthly journeys to his sponsor when his sponsor asked him: "...didn't he do something special for you when you were young?"  He tearfully remembered the times that he had his father drive him all over Denver to find a 10-cent comic book he wanted and never complained about the battery trips again.

Part of the ritual of these deals is for mom at some point to express how terrible she feels about taking me away from my day.  I doubt that she's really all that sincere about her regret but it seems to be what she needs to say as a part of the dance we do.

I think when I left today, mom felt a little bit special.

I hope so.


Mary Christine said...

That made me cry. I am so glad that you are sponsoring men who may hear you when you share something like this. What a wonderful thing it is that your mom has a sober son.

Scott W said...

You are so creative in your giving back to your mom. Really inspiring!

Tall Kay said...

These times with your mom are very special. They are memories you will cherish for the rest of your life. What a gift to be sober!

Scott said...

sometimes it isn't about the details, it's the big picture and you're an inspiration Ed... We get so wrapped up in the why's and the how's that we forget how important it is to just love, do and be. What an excellent post, thank you Ed!

Pam said...

Our relationship with our Mothers is soooo complicated yes?
There was only one mail box in all of Houston that my mother dropped her utility bills into. When she was not able to leave the house anymore, she had me drop her bills off and I made myself drive to that one stupid mailbox out of thousands in Houston, because she believed that it was the only one that the post office took "proper" care of.
Let's all tell each other if we get like that, OK?

Syd said...

I'm so glad that you are showing your mother how special she is. My mother also lived in a senior high rise. She loved it and kept busy until she became too fragile and forgetful to stay there any more. I think that her time there was really happy. She felt secure. I believe that all any elderly person wants is some companionship--heck, isn't that what we all want in a way?

Peggy G said...

I read your last 4 "days" this morning. REALLY needed to hear the DOING/FEELING share. Also caring for your mom as I'm caring for my dad has many learning moments. I work at being honest, openminded and willing, it helps - ALOT.
Thanks for your honest sharing.