Those were the words I heard today when my co-workers and I sat at the table in the restaurant and watched a beautiful family of women celebrating the birthday of their Mom/Grandmother/Great Grandmother. What a treat to witness this moment in their family history, and what a privilege for them to honor this woman with their love and attention on her special day.
All of us sitting at the table no longer have our Moms to take to lunch. And all of us had bittersweet tears just thinking about that experience we no longer have, anticipating our Mom’s birthday celebrations.
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our conversation turned to caring for our parents and one talked about the complaints she has heard from others about the inconvenience and disruption it caused in their own lives. She shared that if only they knew what these feelings would be like after their loved ones are gone…they would be grateful for the inconveniences and disruption to their daily lives. Another shared that if they could bring their parent back, they would have taken better care to involve and include and pay attention to every little memory and experience. Still another shared that it takes humans a lifetime to finally figure out how to love and give back to those who sacrificed so much for their children.
I am reminded of my own selfishness and preoccupation after I grew up, got married, had kids, and was so busy with my own life. Now that I am in my Mom’s shoes, I know that feeling of quiet nights, of much time between phone calls, of not being the center of my children’s love and affection any longer. I think about my Bingo friends and their very quiet days and nights at the assisted living facility, wanting and wishing for visits from friends and family, their eyes lighting up when sharing a story about their children and grandchildren or a recent visit.
So, I am grateful for the glimpse into the world of this remarkable family at lunch today.
I am grateful that I finally understand why Mom was so insistent on holidays together as a family, dysfunction and chaos and inconvenience and lots of love all wrapped up in one crazy get-together.
And I am grateful I still have opportunities to take my Dad to lunch.