Hilary Hodge: Spending time with mom
My wife and I have been spending more time with our parents lately. In some ways, our parents need more help than usual. In other ways, we just like hanging out with them. Growing up I never thought there would ever come a time when I would call my mom or dad just to say hi. Now I call them at least once each week and I make a concerted effort to see them at least once per month.
The other day, my mom said, “You know, I’m old enough now that I have more yesterdays than I’ll have tomorrows.”
I do know that. I know that my parents are aging and I know that, more than likely, we are past the half-way point of my life with my parents. We may be past the three-quarter point. That’s the thing about life. One just never knows how long we have with our loved ones.
We moved my mom to Grass Valley last week, to a house around the corner from us. She’s not ailing or fragile. She doesn’t really need my help or any of my assistance. She doesn’t need me to do anything for her that she couldn’t learn to do for herself from watching a Youtube video. There wasn’t any practical reason for my mom to uproot and move. Mostly, my mom was bored.
My mom had lived in a retirement community in Baja Mexico for the last eight years. She moved there from her home in the Bay Area thinking that she would be relaxing on the beach part time and traveling around the USA in a motorhome with my step-father, her husband.
Her husband died just after they sold their house, and just before they were set to move. My mother moved despite her circumstances. She moved by herself to Mexico.
After eight years in a retirement community in the desert, eating the same food and playing the same card games, my mother decided that she needed a change. I was relieved because she is getting older and Mexico is fairly far away. We found her a house to rent and she packed her things.
My mom has been living in town for less than one week and she is already getting on my nerves.
Mother-daughter relationships are complicated. There is no one who gets under my skin quite like my mother. I love my mother with all my heart. However, we are very different people.
I’m very practical and methodical. I make lists and spread sheets. She is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person. I’m very independent and like to figure out the solutions to problems on my own. My mom, on the other hand, would rather defer to someone more capable or experienced than herself and let another person handle a problem or task.
Politically, we share the same values but we often see those values manifest in completely different causes and candidates. We have different thoughts on religion. We enjoy some of the same books but we have very different ideas about how much television is good for you. She loves to watch the news. I would rather read a newspaper or magazine.
In some ways, I can’t believe I grew up in her house. My mom doesn’t cook and she doesn’t eat a lot of vegetables or complicated meals. She is happy with a hardboiled egg for breakfast and a can of soup for dinner. I love to cook and research new recipes.
I have my own organic garden and cook everything from chicken with mole sauce to coconut curried tofu. My mom won’t touch tofu.
In spite of our differences, however, my mother is one of my very best friends. She is one of the most loving people in the whole world and one of the kindest. She loves to have fun and the two of us can spend an afternoon laughing together for no apparent reason.
I know that life is a limited time offer and that every moment with a loved one is important and precious. Sometimes those moments include laughing on the porch while drinking iced tea. Sometimes we get to plant flowers or fly kites or eat cake with the people we love. And sometimes the people we love piss us off.
I know that every moment that my mother gets on my nerves or backseat drives or argues with me about something inconsequential is a precious moment. I know that every moment I get with her is a precious moment.
Hilary Hodge lives in Grass Valley. Her column is published by The Union on Tuesdays. Contact her at email@example.com.
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