Yesterday I was at our Annual All-Staff Meeting, an all-day affair held at a resort nearby, with a speaker and catered lunch and awards and activities. The speaker was really good. He did magic tricks, and told jokes while educating us (roughly 150 people) about communicating. He made us laugh and we learned something – most of it we all know, but it’s always good to be reminded. Communicating with people is the heart and soul of what we do here at Acme Health Services, so it can’t be stressed enough.
The meeting was okay – I won a gift card (!), and the self-defense class was really cool. We had pictures taken (my hair looked like rats spit on it, of course), and the admin staff said really nice things about the work we do and the difference we make in our communities. Yay us!
But the best part was after the meeting when the real communicating and magic took place. As we do every year, a select group of us sashayed across the snow and took up most of the seats in a small bar at the resort. We drank and ate and laughed and just had so much fun. We’ve all known each other and worked together for a long time, and that’s our one opportunity a year to all be together.
We have 5 office locations, so many of the people I work with daily via email and phone – some of whom I have worked with for the last 18 years – I only see on that one day. Not to mention the retirees, most of whom were my friends before they left work. It’s like the best kind of a reunion, and it does my heart good. Every year I am able to set aside all my worries on that one day and just revel in fun and laughter with people I like and care about. I’m out of town, and I don’t have my car, so even if something happened at home, I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. I’m not responsible for taking care of whatever might be going on at home and the office is closed. On that one day, I’m free.
We all are. It’s more of a day off than a weekend or vacation day, in fact, cuz we’re required to be away from home, but we’re not working. I had told mom I would be home to make her dinner, but then as the afternoon progressed it was clear I wasn’t going to be. I wasn’t driving, so even if I wanted to leave (I didn’t) I couldn’t.
So I called her around 5 and told her I thought I would be home around 7 and if she wanted me to make her dinner then I’d be happy to, and then I gently suggested if she didn’t want to wait for me she could make her own dinner, which she is capable of now and again, certainly. It doesn’t take a lot of thought or energy to do baked potatoes in the microwave, after all. And I said I’d do the dishes when I got home.
I didn’t feel guilty as I don’t leave her on her own like that often, and she didn’t try to make me feel guilty, either, which was just amazing, really. That felt like more magic! Even a year ago, she would have done the full martyr act and tried to ruin my day. The last 5 years on meeting day I simply made arrangements to be home in time for dinner, because I didn’t want to deal with all that. Yesterday, though, she simply said, “Okay, I’ll decide. Be safe and come when you can.”
Wow! Who was that masked woman? Who are you and what have you done with my mother? When I got home she was pleasant and asked about the meeting and was happy I’d had such a great day. I made dinner for both of us, did the dishes and we watched a movie together before I went to bed.
This is the mother I have been waiting for my whole life. She set aside her own agenda so that I could do something that made me happy. Folks, that hasn’t happened in the almost 57 years I’ve known that woman, and it’s no small thing, I’ll tell you. I feel like I won the lottery or something. Winning that gift card was cool, but it pales in comparison to the other prize I got yesterday – a mother who is on my side, interested in my happiness, not just hers, and willing to compromise so we can both be happy.
Stunning, really, and I can’t explain the change, and it may not last, but I’m not going to question it. What a wonderful thing. Makes me feel that these last 6 years have not only served the purpose of keeping my mother in her home and as healthy as possible, but have also served to repair our relationship, and that’s a gift that is beyond any I’ve ever hoped for. It makes this whole experience feel less like a trial and more like an opportunity, and for that I’m very grateful.
Life is just so amazing – lows so low you think you’ll never rise again, and highs so high you’re flying. It’s all part of the same beautiful thing, though. Right now I wouldn’t give up any of it. Days like yesterday make all the bad days fade in memory. They’ll be back, of course, but I’ll hang on to this feeling for as long as I can and it’ll soften the blow of whatever harsh blow life has in store in the coming days, weeks, and years.
Now…what am I going to spend that gift card on?!