Ever hopeful, full of dreams of grand adventures we celebrate our birthdays with drunken joy. How can we even begin to imagine the actual experiences we will live as we walk our paths? How can we anticipate the pain, the disappointment, the betrayal and possible reconciliation The parents of my friends continue to disappear, while mine wake up each morning wondering what to have for breakfast. And actually they are both pretty set on their ways, knowing their own preferences after these 80+ years. Divorced, they each fend for themselves. My Sauk Rapids mother, who is not a morning person, places instant oatmeal in the microwave of her senior apartment while still in her nightgown. After dressing, my Mesa, Arizona Dad eases himself behind the wheel of his vintage Cadillac and heads to the Red Mountain Cafe to order his ham and eggs, hash browns with crispy onions, wheat toast and a side of sausage gravy.
I remind myself how blessed I am to have my parents a phone call away. After singing at the funeral of my friends mother I called my own mother to go for pancakes at Perkins in the Pines. No answer. Called that evening with the same results. I sent her an e-mail. followed by text. There is some degree of dementia in play, very mild, but enough that she doesn't track information like she has in the past. I have to remind myself that this isn't the woman I knew when I was 28, celebrating with my friends, cursing my ill fortune to have this woman as my main caregiver. I resented her demands to assist her in raising my siblings. She had me feeding my younger sister as soon as I could manage to hold the bottle at the proper angle. Now I realize she was drowning and couldn't have managed my 5 siblings without my help. When something went right, she got the glory. When shit hit the fan, and it frequently did, I got the blame. So why wasn't she picking up the phone? There had been a few years when she wasn't speaking to me, however I didn't realize it and thought I just kept missing her. Finally one of my sisters clued me in. I had offended her and she had cut off communication without any confrontation or explanation. No wonder I have so few negotiating skills. I was taught it was all or nothing and expected to read minds, at least my mother's mind, and to anticipate her movements, desires. With unpleasant consequences when I failed. Once your identity is warped, can it be fixed? Full of conflicting emotions and beliefs how do you even begin to sort them out. Perhaps the secret still lives in not trying to sort and make sense of the craziness. Just live one day at a time, one moment, one conversation, one appointment and let all the rest fall as it may. And remember that it all has value, especially the painful parts, the parts we call failures and mistakes. My biggest mistake appears to be taking my life personally. I sometimes forget how big I am and get lost in the details, feeling small and vulnerable, helpless and isolated. In truth the ocean is smaller than we human beings. We extend far beyond the surface of our skins, yet we forget and limit our identities in ways we will one day remember is silly. When to quit? When I want something different to manifest in my life. Something more joyous, more satisfying, more authentic.