I like to pause between themes, to take a moment to rest at the top of the stairs, to take a deep breath.
These posts this year started with an exploration into finding our true selves, and after forays into the coronavirus and racial justice, moved to navigating transitions.
My first post on the coronavirus was on March 15. George Floyd was killed on May 25. The Kentucky grand jury delivered their decision regarding the charges for the murder of Breonna Taylor on September 23. As I reflect on where we were and where we are, we seem even further from a better place.
My mother said, on a recent call, “I don’t want to live in this world anymore.” This concerns me because in my experience with the elderly, once they decide they don’t want to stick around, they don’t.
I think my mom is already leaving the planet—mentally. When we talked last weekend she asked if I would help write her bio for the resident directory.
Mom has avoided her bio because she is ashamed. She lives in a senior center ten miles from Princeton University. Many of her fellow residents are former professors. My mom is ashamed of not having a college degree because my father taught her that she was less of a person because of this, and she believed him.
As we talked on the phone, my mom recounted the story of her life and I took notes. She talked about being a Nebraska telephone operator in the days of cords and plugs, and when they moved to New Jersey, a Welcome Wagon hostess. Then she stopped and asked,
“Was there anything after that?”
The lack of knowing in my mother’s voice caught in my throat. My mind whirred with calculations. She started Welcome Wagon when we moved to Middletown, so 1967. After a few years of that, she became a realtor and then a salesclerk while waiting for a position to open with the company that had employed her in her twenties: AT&T.
“Mom, do you want to add AT&T?”
“Oh, I did do that, didn’t I?”
Yes, for eighteen years, until her retirement.
My mom has been sequestered in her apartment since March. They bring her meals to her door. A few weeks ago she and a couple of her neighbors rebelled and went to visit an ‘off-campus’ friend so they could play bridge and be together. But after the cards were dealt, none of them could remember how to play.
As much as my relationship with my mother has been fraught with complication, I love her. And even though she’s ninety, I’m not ready for her to leave.
I’ve completed the podcast workshop and am preparing my podcast for prime time. It’s called Hard Times & Hope.
Each episode features an interview with someone I know about the challenges of life—the difficult questions, the unwelcome losses, the gut-wrenching choices. We talk about how they navigated a hard time and what gave them hope. Here’s what one of my workshop coaches said about episode 3: “This is beautiful work. Rich with vulnerability, strength and insight from both of you. And your sensitivity as an interviewer is exquisite. Bravo.”
The trailer will come out this Saturday, October 3. It’s a 78-second preview and I hope you like it. Episodes will come out every other Saturday, starting October 10, and will be announced via this blog and wherever you get your podcasts. I’m working on building the link that will allow you to unsubscribe from the podcast in case you’re not interested. (But I hope you’re interested!)
Chewing the Cud of Good
Thankful for fresh starts.