Monday, May 03, 2010

What you want to do.

My Grandma used to say "We find time in life to do the things we want to do". She just turned 100 and there is no doubt what she wanted to do with her life. There is nothing more important to her than family.

My Dad would use that saying when I hadn't practiced the piano, to which I responded, "I know, I don't WANT to practice the piano." But the saying has been a sage one, and begs the question. "What do you want to do? Do your actions show it?"

Are you too busy?

About a week ago our family found out my Mom's cancer returned. She beat breast cancer once before, but it came back and brought friends. Recent tests showed that it isn't in her breast, but there are tumors in the lymph nodes around her lungs, lesions in her liver and in her spine. Today I also found out that there are lesions in her brain.

The thing is this, I can't do anything. So I booked a flight out there to do nothing with her. Fortunately I have an awesome business partner who is willing to shoulder a lot for me. Fortunately flights were inexpensive and most of my work this last week was supposed to be writing. So I was fortunate enough to go out there and do what I really wanted to do. Be with her while she was healthy.

But she isn't that healthy. She breathes heavily after doing her makeup. But she is brave and she doesn't let you know that. She got call after call while I was there and everytime she answered to phone with a smile" This is Susan! ...Me, oh I'm doing fine". When people ask me how I am doing I usually say "Good Enough" or give them a number (7 out of 10 is the average). My mom is doing "great" and she just had the worst news of her life and needs 5 naps just to make it through the day. She has some health issues, but mostly she is just tired.

But of all the women I know, she's got a reason to be tired. She has worn herself out in the service of others. What does she want to do? The answer has always been the same, stay busy, keep moving, and usually in the direction of others. Now listen, she's now saint. She's not perfect, I don't want to get in the business of making someone into someone that there not. But I am going to give my mom this: She's lived a lot more than women twice her age and gotten just about as much done. Here is a short list: Utah State PTA president, President Worldwide Organization for Women, Stake Relief Society President, Board Member of the Network of Religious Communities in Buffalo. 3 of those post she holds right now. But those are the ones that mean much to her. She is the mother of 5 fairly decent men. This is the one that has required the most work by far, and the one that hasn't gotten any easier.

Yet when she fills out a questionnaire she has to put occupation: none.

But then there are the intangibles. She never had any daughters, so instead, she has taken on countless daughters that didn't even know they were getting a new mom. I know it because I heard them calling her last week. Weeping on the phone with her thanking her for being a second mom when they needed one. They are in Iowa, and Los Angeles, and Salt Lake, and St. George and Buffalo. Some don't even speak English that well. For years she taught "Girls Creative Dance" she made enough money to pay for a babysitter for us and for her studio. She did it because she had to. She did it because the kids needed a Miss Susan to show them "hello mr. toes" and how to twirl and twirl and twirl, those little girls were all her daughters too. The girls that have married into this family, they became daughters too. Maybe they were harder, because she didn't choose them and they were taking something that she loved so much. But there is no doubt that that they were her daughters.

And even when it is hard to love, she kept on loving. I don't want to get into stories here, but you know who you are. The inconvenient loves, the loves on the other side of the political fence. Mom does that well. This is starting to sound like a Eulogy, but it isn't, it's about a weekend.

My mom has found the time to do what she wants to do. So I can find some time to do a little of what I want to do, and that's spend time with her.

So I went to Buffalo.

We talked about girls and dating. She gave me advice, some of it unwanted but all of it needed, desperately needed. We watched a little "What not to wear", we took naps on the couch, We went to the doctors, and chemo, and after Chemo and she had some appetite I took her on a date to an Italian restaurant where she let me pay. We went shopping for flowers, we filmed a cooking show so that she can show anyone how to make chocolate roll (a family recipe), we played with little Taylor, we fixed her website, we had a chocolate roll breakfast on the porch in the shade of her trees. We got hot wings, even though she couldn't eat any but because she knew I wanted some, I showed her my iPad and she pretended to care. We prayed together over our food and on the last night there I prayed with my Mom and my Dad and hugged them and told them I loved them and cried.

Now my mom is a fighter, and she is not gone yet, but the Lord knows her days and will take her when her mission is done. But you see, I want her to live a million years and meet my wife and my kids and all that, I want her to teach them "hello mr. toes" and how to twirl and twirl and twirl. I want her to give my wife advice on how to handle a guy like me. but for now, I can just find time to do what I want to do. And that is to do what she always taught, stay busy and keep moving, usually in the direction of other.

Now another wise person once said, "No success can compensate for failure in the home". What does that even mean? what is failure in the home? Is it when your kid grows up to be a ruffian? or a chiropractor? what if he leaves the church? or does something bad? is that a failure? What if he uses WAY too many question-marks?

No, that isn't failure. Those are the kids decisions. Failure in the home is if the kids grow up and don't know right from wrong. If the kids grow up and don't know that they are loved. There is a lot of stuff to figure out in life, especially as a parent. But you get those things right and you have done your job. My Mom does a lot of things that are great, but most importantly she lets us know we are loved, She teaches us right and wrong. Sometimes imperfectly, but she does these things.

I am not going to wait until people are gone to say these things. Today I am going to do the things I want to do. I am going to tell the people that I love, that I love them. I am going to leave work when it's more important to spend time with people. I am going to find beauty and love every day, and I am going to love the people that are difficult to love. I am going to find time to do what I want to do.

30 comments:

sharpandkeen said...

beautiful post, damian. thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

mathewsn said...

I echo the earlier comment Damian, I although I am not sure I could ever put to words the way you did, I understand some of the emotions that you are now going through. We lost my dad last year about this time to cancer and it was tough.

Keep you chin up, we both have wonderful memories . . .

Kristina said...

Your mom sounds magical. I'm glad you got to spend some more time with her.

Bradford Lee said...

You are a good man Mr. Dayton, thanks for sharing.

cropstar said...

that was beautiul, damian. thank you for the reminder to really live. thank you for sharing your mom.
cheers, christy (another blogstalker)

Brian Watkins said...

Thanks for hitting publish, dude. Love you. Brian

B. said...

This is an amazing post, Damian. Stunning, even.

Johnny and Angela said...

Well said. Angela and I considered it a great privilege to spend a few years living near your folks. We love them.

John and Angela said...

Great thoughts! I loved how you expressed your love and feelings!

We love your mother so much...she is an amazing hostess, makes you always feel welcome and wonderful, and an fabulous decorator. We loved spending so much time with her when we lived in Buffalo. She is always so thoughtful of others and so positive about life and people. She is wonderful!

LanaBanana said...

Awww shucks Damian. Why you gotta make me cry? I saw your facebook post with this link. Little did I know what was ahead! Your words were perfect. Sounds like that weekend was too. Love your mom...

K. Thompson said...

We are all praying and fasting for your mom and my big sister. She is an inspiration to us all. Fasting, prayer and the power of the priesthood is the stuff miracles are made of. I should know since I started counting I am up to 560 just counting one a day. You know how engineers are they like numbers. yesterday was miracle 559 your letter to us all. It was, as you and your Mom is inspirational. Today is miracle 560 day there will be one. At the end of the day reflect on it record it and draw strength from it. You are miraculous.

carrie said...

beautifully written Damian.

Barbaloot said...

That was beautiful Damian. Your mom is amazing---and she obviously did a great job with you. You've always been one of my favorite cousins.

I hope to see that chocolate roll video one day. Sadly, it's not one of the recipes I've mastered yet.

bex said...

<3

Ems said...

thanks for this, love you guy.

Christopher Clark said...

Damian, my best wishes and prayers are with your family. That was an inspirational piece.

Sharon said...

What a wonderful mom you have. Damian our prayers will be with your family. Thanks for sharing all that she does,She is an inspiration to all!

Joel said...

Thanks for sharing, Damian. Your family will be in our prayers.

becausethesunrises said...

Beautiful Damian,
Our Family was so happy to see your mom and dad at the JSMB on New Years Eve. Your parents were great friends. I was always cheering your mom on. She always has such high hurdles/goals to swoosh/achieve. She makes it look easy. Visiting them was the last thing I did last year!
Happy New Year! It was a great visit. I saw something different about your mom. It must have been the love and concern she has for all of you. She is a real great mom. She must still have so much to give you and your families. I will pray always for her and her energy and healing. I really believe in healing. If anyone deserves healing Susan does.
Take Care
The Morgan Family
Heughs Canyon Ward Family

Gini Dietrich said...

Just when I thought I had the worst day on record, I read this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts...and for putting things in perspective. I'm so very sorry for you, Adrian, and your other brothers. I'm so glad you could get there and savor some time with her! My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Rich said...

Of all your many weekend adventures, that weekend is going to be the one your mind hangs on to for a lifetime. Thanks for sharing.

ashlee said...

me. crying. and grateful for your post.

carolinesbakeshop said...

i've been sending out prayers to you, your mom, and the rest of your family. big hugs.

ROXY MARJ said...

+__+
' '
crying. This is really beautiful Damian....

Damian said...

I just want to thank everyone that responded here. What I wrote was really for me, so that I could process what I was feeling. During these things you feel so alone, and then people respond and you again feel connected. So thank you.

C said...

In the brief encounters I have had with your mom I've always been blessed. She is a quiet soldier for good. I bet there are people just like me all over the place who think of her and smile the same smile I am right now. Love and service is our highest calling, in parenthood and otherwise. I lost my dad to cancer in 1992, it was a long struggle. There are so many feelings. My prayers for your family are constant. Stay strong.

jayna said...

damian.... i love this post. thank you. i also want to tell you that i am so grateful for your friendship. she sounds amazing. but i'm not surprised that she is amazing... because i know you.

Allyson & Jere said...

So, I occasionally blog stalk you here, 'cause you're realllly funny. But, I've never commented.

I happened to check you out today, and well, I'm a bawly mess over here.

This was such a beautifully, amazingly written post! Your way with words and expressing the feelings of this time and that weekend were perfect.

Thank you for sharing something so personal.

Your Mom IS a beautiful and special woman. We can only hope that her time here will be longer.

Diana said...

This has to be the most beautiful post I have read.
Its inspiring, its loving any mother would love to read this by her son.
I hope you are doing alright.

T.R. said...

That was inspiring. Thanks Damian.