Remembering Mom: Find Something to Do


Yesterday morning, I stepped outside with Floyd and Maeve for the morning constitutional and heard mockingbirds imitating the sounds of fire sirens.  There they were in the tops of as-yet leafless maples singing the song of the hour:  something is very wrong.  That didn't keep the dogs from doing what dogs do. 

That did keep me from slipping into a stark state of mind, though.  Mockingbirds.  Add to their modernist contribution to the ambiance the rattle of robins, the "hey, gang, we're here" cackle of crows, the "breakfast, dammit" of blue jays, and you have an inimitable early morning, early spring moment that just plain asks the daffodils and the forsythia to get on with it so we have some scenery in shades of splendid yellow to enjoy.

Yellow.  Mom's favorite color.  The color of joy and hope and getting on with it.

If she were here now waiting out the coronavirus quarantine/shelter-in-place/shut down, she'd say, "Find something to do."  And if I waited too long, she might come back to say, "Go outside and do some yard work."  To that she might throw in, "Stop feeling sorry forbyourself."

As gentle, sweet, and kind as my mother was, she was also ruthless.  Against the inertia of self-pity she pushed with herculean might.  To her way of thinking, self-pity was a form of self-absorption that left all kinds of work undone and bored the pants off the people around you.

Thinking about it now, I would say any instance of shifting responsibility for your life and your actions to some other was a form of self-pity--a surrender to fate rather than an owning of it.  Further, surrendering the responsibility to do something in the face of crummy circumstances (COVID-19, anybody?) would also count as self-pity.

I hear hear.  I feel her.  I refused to surrender.  But how I wish she were here to remind me not to feel sorry for myself, this woman born into a war, blinded in one eye by some bratty kid when she herself was a kid, raising a family during those not-so-glorious 70s, managing the dynamics of a dysfunctional family to the bitter end, loving her children and grandchildren, and finding a good cause for a big laugh and an enduring smile through it all.

Find something to do.

I write lesson plans, and I walk the dogs. I do yard work, clean the house, write letters.

Through it all, I remember the Mom who said loving means doing.

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