Are there two sides to every coin? Of course.
Is there a different angle to every seat at the table of life? You bet.
Perhaps it’s the Yin and Yang of it all. Certainly if I’m sitting at the table nearest the dessert display then I may have a bit sweeter disposition on the topic at hand.
Similarly, if I’m seated nearest the roast beef carving station, perhaps I may have a meatier approach.
As I find myself getting older, I observe those that are nearest and dearest to me doing the same. After all, time stops for no one. The life experiences of my 82 year old Mom (yes, that would be this post’s namesake) are beyond compare to mine at my new medicare-ripe age of 65.
Her expectancy for me to understand and appreciate her views at 80 are often frustrating. I have not been there…yet. Why can’t she recall and include the experiences of her 65 year self to more reasonably prepare others (okay me) for aging without the process becoming framed in hostility? Yet others listen to her sage advice with wide-eyed awe. To them she is nearly a prophet.
I stay with a 92 year old and have been doing so most weekdays for 2 ½ years now. I spend the better part of my work week joining her for dinner and conversation before leaving in the morning for my job. She is indeed sitting at the other end of the buffet table. She has been waited on in a luxurious lifestyle and it has afforded her and those closest to her more options in life than most I would guess. It is none of my affair except to note the different angle from which she approaches life. Saving the world is a thought that is easily replaced to a more simple love of her dogs and “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns.
She is angry with her partner of over 60 years for leaving her flying solo on this earthly plane. While he did everything for her, the realization is she can do little for herself it would seem. That is her side of the coin these days.
As I watch her daughter and granddaughter visit and interact with this 92 year old, I reflect on my reactions to my own Mom. It is a different side of the caring coin when it is your Mom and the Mother/Daughter history shared is your own. Personal frustration comes to lead the dance when it is your maternal relationship. Compassion dictates the pace of the song when you are accepting the unrelated invitation to assist. The silly comments and clouded memories are noticed playfully until the relationship’s history gets called into play. Why then does hostility waft in like unwanted cigarette smoke while we try to discount the seeming decline in ability? The angles are cloudy now.
Just today my Mom was commenting on the angst that surrounded the latest years of her own relationship with her Mom. Is that characteristic meant to help us let go? I wonder? The angles are very different but the love is undeniable just the same.
I actually think it’s two-fold. As we age and sense the loss in our ability to be independent we resent it. After all, that’s what most of us thus far have worked so hard for all of our lives. As we approach advancing age we realize it is all happening so quickly and maybe we need to make a more valiant effort at it. Then, those two conditions I call sides and angles collide in a whirlpool of emotion that makes us even more painfully aware that we are fast approaching the aging topic at very different angles. Decisions we know to be necessary and have planned for now seem invasive and unwelcome.
There is definitely truth in an old boss of mine’s statement, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end, the quicker it goes”.
That’s one side. My angle is to do the best possible with each moment/hour/day, week, etc. After all, I’ve learned that we have the power to flip the coin to a different side at any age. If you don’t like your view, try approaching it from a different angle!
Happy Birthday to Me!