Why should I worry?

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There I was crouched under the weight of the summer sun with
a head cold.  My nose ran, my
sinuses blocked up and nowhere could I find sympathy from any of the people who
occupy my life.  They too were
caught up in the heat. 
So I took myself away. 
I locked myself inside my study and turned on the fan.  It whirred its way into the day.  No more activity for me.
‘You can’t stop,’ my daughter said. ‘I need your
help.  Besides, mothers don’t get
sick.  Mothers stay well.’  She stomped out of the room.
   
My mother plans to live till she’s one hundred. 
‘That’s six more years,’ I told her on my last visit.  ‘That’s a long time.’
‘But it’s something special to live to one hundred.  There’s no big deal in being
ninety-five. And time goes so fast these days.’  My mother wiped her nose on a tissue and threw it into
the  wastepaper basket by her
chair.  My mother goes through
tissues like they are breaths of air. 
‘I don’t do a thing these days,’ she went on, ‘but that’s okay.  I should be allowed to go slow.  I’m ninety four.  I deserve a rest.’
I do not repeat the mantra, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose
it’.  Why not stop still in her
chair and do nothing?
Why not sit each day surrounded by books, the trashy Mills
and Boon type of novels my mother reads, all are readily available from the
library in her retirement village; all she can read these days for the large
print? 
My mother reads these books the way she eats
chocolate.  I never bother to ask
her what each book is about.  I
suspect she could not tell me.  She
reads books like people read the trashy magazines in doctors’ surgeries –  eye candy, fodder for the mind. 
‘Why should I worry? 
My mother asks me yet again. 
A rhetorical question.  
She does not expect an answer and I’m not inclined to offer one. 
‘Why should I worry about my children?  There’s nothing I can do about
them.  They have their lives.  They make their own decisions.  I have nothing to worry about.’
When I sit with my mother as I do at least once a week and
she tells me yet again how much she fails to worry, does she see the skepticism
in my eyes?
Probably not. 
She refuses to wear her glasses, except to read.  Glasses do not suit her sense of the
fashionable.  Glasses make her look
old.  And so she can barely
see.  She will not see.
 
Those three wise monkeys come to mind. 
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8 Comments on Why should I worry?

  1. Jim Murdoch
    March 1, 2014 at 5:08 am (4 years ago)

    As I get older I find I’m tempted more and more by selfishness or maybe self-indulgence is more what I mean. For most of my life I’ve modified my decisions so that I considered how these might affect those around me. And when something mattered enough that I didn’t I at least had the decency to feel guilty about it and not enjoy whatever it was I’d held out for. Nowadays I do what I want to do more than I don’t and I can see me somewhere down the line caring less and less about what people think about my life choices. But I think the only way I’ll be able to stop caring about if what I’m doing upsets others is to avoid them completely. A part of me would like to.

    I think the thing that annoys me the most in life at the moment—my life is such a terrible life—are unsolicited callers. Mostly it’s the postman—we get a lot of stuff through the post—but not always. The ones I hate the most are charity workers, not because I’m not charitable—I donate regularly to a charity of my choice by standing order—but because I feel I have to justify not donating to these other charities. Two pounds a month seems so little to ask. And it is. But when you have a half dozen people all looking for two pounds a month it becomes a consideration. And it’s not always two pounds a month. It’s my money. I should be able to spend it or give it away as I see fit and it bothers me that people make me feel bad about that. I’ve not studied sociology as much as I have psychology perhaps because what I did read about rubbed me up the wrong way. I’ve always been different and social groups don’t like difference. They like homogeneity. The one thing the charity workers all comment on is the response from my neighbours. Be a good neighbour. Do what everyone else is doing. If you don’t you’re not normal. Since when was being normal so great?

    I don’t worry about my daughter. I think about her from time to time but I really don’t worry about her. And I doubt she worries about me. We don’t really have that kind of relationship. Whether it’s a normal relationship I couldn’t tell you but it works for us. She too likes to keep people at a distance so she can be herself. I don’t think I taught her that. Maybe it’s in the genes. I like the idea that she’s happy, by whatever standard she measure happiness. And I try not to judge. I didn’t have too many goals for her as a child growing up other than she should love to read which she does so job well done. The rest I left up to her and supported her decisions. Fortunately none were very radical. The tattoo and the piercings were the worst I had to endure and I’ve not seen the nose stud in a very long time. Thank God. Ugly-looking thing.

    When my own mother got into her late seventies she lived off microwave chips. This amused the hell out of me because one of her war cries was, “You are what you eat.” But there was no one to tell her what to do—she’d endured over fifty years of being kept in her place by my dad—so with her remaining few years (and it was only a few years) she did what she wanted to do. She practiced her faith, did the rounds of the charity shops every day, let a second cat into the house (my dad hated cats and would only let her have one at a time) and lived off microwave chips. It was the closest to being happy she was ever going to get.

    Reply
  2. Birdie
    March 1, 2014 at 5:12 am (4 years ago)

    My grandmother lived late into her 80's and refused all things that she thought made her look old. )A walker, hearing aides and getting assistance.) She was actually quite the snob about the other people that lived in the nursing home with her. She talked about them and considered herself better than. I never knew if her lack of insight was a blessing or a curse.

    Reply
  3. River
    March 1, 2014 at 10:02 am (4 years ago)

    My children are adults now, the youngest 33 tomorrow, so I don't worry about them. They make their own decisions and have to live with them, nothing I can do about it. There's a lot that I don't worry about anymore.

    Reply
  4. ellen abbott
    March 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm (4 years ago)

    Why should she worry at her age? what good would it do anyway except make her feel bad. what good does worry do anyone of any age? worry does not change anything or make anything happen.

    Reply
  5. Joanne Noragon
    March 1, 2014 at 2:56 pm (4 years ago)

    I wonder if I will live to be 100. I want to walk straight in, standing up, so I try to eat and live sensibly. However, I don't worry about it. Perhaps it helps that I am not a big fan of food, although I probably could still devour a whole bowl of flan.

    Reply
  6. Anthony Duce
    March 1, 2014 at 11:45 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m not sure there is a choose, to worry or not. The worry catches us weather we know we are, or not.
    I do enjoy your writing. I’m having similar conversations with my parents these days.

    Reply
  7. Jen
    March 2, 2014 at 4:34 am (4 years ago)

    I can hear that you are frustrated with your mother.

    It's a hard, hard stage of life to have an aging parent.

    I myself do wish that all the old and infirm could live surrounded by comfort, love, and being honored just for having made it that far. But it's hard to do when they're our own parents and we know their flaws.

    Reply
  8. Rob-bear
    March 3, 2014 at 1:38 am (4 years ago)

    Being a Mother is, indeed, a lifetime commitment. As in the lifetime of your children. No matter how old they get, you're still their mom. And your mom is still your mom. The nature of the relationships changes over time, but the relations are fixed — cast in stone, or steel, or something pretty close to permanent.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

    Reply

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