Monday, September 5, 2011

Finding the Pot of Gold

Starting with a swollen head and more rainfall, the day seemed like a slog through thigh deep mud until I realized it was the first anniversary of my mother's death. No matter how normal we want to be, there are times the quagmire is real and we just have to sink into it and allow the time to be what it is.

The single blessing of Alzheimer's, I answer people's condolences, is that it gets you used to the loss and even makes their passing a relief. After a decade of coping, despite the gaping hole, we can get back to our own lives, remembering who and where we are, maybe even a little clearer about where we want to go.

My mother was a grand woman of hope and encouragement. On the cloudiest of days and in the thickest of mud, she could open a closed heart just by stopping, listening and offering a hug. If people's greatest need beyond food, clothing and shelter, is to be heard, she could feed the world.

No one was too small or unimportant to become the focus of her attention. She was never too busy. The hard work of my father provided her the canvas, but she applied the spirit that made portrait after portrait of conversations that inspired people young and not so young to follow their dreams.

Her boundless optimism could be irritating to me who shivered in wet clothes and would prefer changing in the tent to coming back out to see yet another rainbow. It was contagious, however, and has seen me through problems that might have settled me otherwise into harmful depressions of immobility.

This morning could easily have felt like that. My problems with money and frustration with apparent unemployment could feel overwhelming. No lover's eye to brighten my breakfast might immerse me in loneliness. The steady drizzle outside could pour misery into open wounds.

Instead, acknowledgment of the day and remembrance of the woman who was so steadfast beside me creates a meditation that keeps her spirit alive and close within my heart. Disdaining celebration of Mother's Day, she requested honor every day or none at all. The little things to her made all the difference.

So I learned to put one foot forward, and then swing the other past. When looking at too many piles of leaves, she taught me how to focus on one and drag it to the corner before raking the next onto the tarp.

Today, I start with the dishes in the sink, sweep up the floor and sit down to scribble a few humble words. It is the Labor Day weekend and instead of bemoaning no job to take off from nor picnic in sight, I do the work of every day in honor of my mother who is no longer here. Her spirit still influences and her heart still warms.

Her encouragement so consistent from so long ago still pushes this pen and I respond as if she still sits at the end of this marble table waiting to read. Only if we allow ourselves to be lost in the moment do we lose the love that has brought us so far.

Awareness shows us the rainbow and stops the shivering, warms our heart and gives us reason to come out of the tent.

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