Monday, May 03, 2010
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.
Posted by Damian at 6:27 PM