One of our family members who lives in a prairie city in Canada, called me the other night with this story. It goes like this:
“I was in the lineup at the grocery store where everyone talks to everyone else, even when social distancing. I had an older man behind me, and on impulse I picked up two lottery tickets, turned to him and asked:
Do you think these are lucky?
He paused, looked me straight in the eye and said this:
‘You are young, beautiful and you look healthy. You have already won the lottery.'”
Yikes, she said, it was like a whack on the side of the head. I will never forget those words.
And here I am, telling you now, because they contain such wisdom. I will not forget those words either.
Now this. My Mother is in the hospital with a broken hip. She fell Sunday evening, was operated on Monday afternoon and is now recovering from it all. The worst part is the physio as it is excruciatingly painful. The second worst part is Covid 19 since my sister who lives nearby is not permitted in to see her. Have I mentioned my Mother is 100?? Only kidding. I have told you at least 100 times. Third worst part is I am 4600 KM away and even if I got on a crowed airplane I cannot see her. Fourth worst part is her hair. “It’s a disaster, she said. “Please tell the family not to video call me. I look a wreck.”
I am now sounding a little cavalier. But this scenario is no joke and it is actually horrible for my Mother. She had recently bought a beautiful, sturdy, burgundy-coloured walker, with a comfortable seat. It seemed the answer to an occasional wobble when walking outdoors. And it was a place to sit for a breather. She believes she tripped over one of the wheels, when turning to place a bag of delicious Sonoma Valley, Washington State cherries, on the counter. Is that not ironic?
Let me tell you a little more.
This morning, I received an email from Mom to send out to my extended family. (my sister was able to drop off her I-pad with the concierge yesterday) This is what she wrote.
“Thanks to all of you for your heart warming messages. It is so thoughtful of you. I am being well cared for. The best thing about the hospital is the heated blankets, especially on a cool rainy day, like today. I am grateful for all your support. Everyone is exceptionally kind here and I love you all very dearly, Eileen, Aunt, Mother, Grandma, Friend.”
So, in spite of the pain, her vulnerability, her loneliness, and the fact that she is going through this with no family member in the room, she refuses to give in to self pity. She can cry. she can ask for what she needs. She can say no to what she doesn’t want. But she will always make sure she notices the way she won the lottery: her family and friends; the medical team; her iPad so she can write an email and the warm blankets. These too are part of her reality and they don’t get subsumed by all the “what if’s and if only’s.” She is a realist with a wide angle lens.
This week’s Webinar at Wellspring Calgary is called “If It’s Raining and You Have an Umbrella, Use It.” Sometimes it rains and there is no umbrella. Or maybe the umbrella leaks or blows inside out with a gust of wind. There isn’t always an antidote to our pain and suffering. But if there is something to be done, it’s best to do it. My sister and I have now found an advocate in the hospital, for our Mother. We can’t be there but we know that Heidi is now paying attention to Mom and cares about her. She is our umbrella. And Mom takes the pain medication and does the dreaded physiotherapy. They are two things she can do to restore her mobility and interdependence. And her learning to use an iPad when she was 90 is paying off in spades in this last decade. Consequently, she called me to night on audio face-time. I asked about the physio. “It was horrible,” she said, “but I think it might have been a teeny bit better than yesterday. I’ll try and keep going for now and reassess a bit later.”
“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”- Mary Anne Radmacher
Note 1:) Heidi, our wonderful advocate told us today that Mom met every surgical marker on time. “None of us can believe she is 100. The entire floor is awestruck. Her mind and reasoning are fully intact and no different than our own. How can this be, she proclaimed? And she is so kind to all of us. We have simply fallen in love with her.”
Note 2:) This day, where we woke up once again, is the lottery, don’t you think? When we sit up, look around, and take it all in, we are bound to see that we too have already won the lottery.
Note 3:) Thank you, thank you, dear readers for continuing to read my blog. You are a gift in my life. Stay safe out there and enjoy your precious lives. Take nothing for granted. Give away all your best words to those you love, while you can.
Note 4:) The deepest bow to my Mother, for her courage, love, humility, steadfastness, and grace under adversity. She is my inspiration. The pink dogwood in the banner is for you, Mom.