(Republished from The Fifth Chapter Blog, original date 7/14/11)
My mother turned 75 today. Later, we will celebrate her creativity, vibrant energy, health & well-being by attending an art reception at a gallery showing some of her paintings. She rides a bike, swims laps and hikes, a lot! She keeps her mind healthy with meditation and prayer. Ever since she read an article that brain games exercise the brain cells, she plays Sudoku and Free Cell to “relax”. She keeps her heart engaged with other people through her art and continuing therapy practice. In other words, she is the picture of good health on all fronts.
Still, she recently admitted to me that she is more easily tired. Also, the idea of possibly moving to live closer to me, her only daughter, is a stressful decision. And I understand why.
There is a house for sale in my neighborhood. It is almost close enough to set-up an old-fashioned tin can string phone between it and my house. It would be perfect for her and my step-dad. It has a lovely view. It is near a wonderful hiking area and bike paths. Wonderful doctors live all around. It has an “in-law” unit for either an art studio or a live-in caretaker, if that is ever needed.
The information processing that goes into a decision like this one could cause overload for some people. Also, there are friendships and possibilities blooming where she is now. To move closer is a subtle statement about dependence rather than independence.
We both wonder how this will flow. I walk by the house every morning and imagine what it would be like to live near my mother again. It has been a lifetime since we spent more than a few days together every so often. The last time we lived in the same house, I was a spoiled, selfish young lady (now I wonder, am I the same only older?). She and my father were beginning the end of their marriage together. Needless to say, we did not talk much then.
Now, I enjoy her sage advice, when I ask her for her thoughts. I enjoy her enthusiasm about people and color and nature and art. I enjoy the optimism she is learning from her “possibility thinker” husband. As I walk by this house, with its possible future, I think I would like to have them closer. Still, we both worry about how much care will be needed, required, or even demanded; and, how to stay independent while moving closer.
Maybe that tension is part of all of our close relationships. We want to be close, but we want to see ourselves shine in our own story as well.
Whatever my mom decides about moving closer, I am glad to have parents that have provided support, encouragement, and love. I am also grateful that she is still quite capable of making this decision herself. Happy Birthday, Mom. Thanks for being the colorful, sprite of my life!