This past weekend I traveled up the road for two hours to my hometown. I was there to visit my Mom and help her with some tasks. We’re at the stage of life where I’m now the trustee of all her financial decisions. Quick note – my mom is 84 and is in excellent health !! She is far more active than most people I know.
I know whenever I visit there will be places where I can lend a hand. I love doing it and am grateful to have such a healthy relationship with my mom. I’m fortunate to say I have healthy relationships with my extended family. I tend to see more relatives from my mom’s side, but it’s true with my stepdad’s side of the family too. My relatives from my biological dad’s side of the family are scattered all over the globe. We connect every so often and it’s wonderful as well. I don’t take this for granted. I’m well aware of many people who don’t have healthy or strong relationships with those in their lives. It touches my heart and I wish it wasn’t the case for anyone.
Mom and dad have had some rental homes for decades and she’s trying to get them sold now that my dad passed in 2020. So, after signing papers at the local law firm’s office, meeting the new landlords, and signing papers at the local bank, we squeezed in some other errands and items she wanted to be attended to. The entire time I was with my mom we were talking. We talked about the work at hand, my job, my wife’s job, our kids, and life in general.
There has always been an ease in talking with my mom. This is not only true with me and our family, but with every person she encounters. It’s almost as if you feel compelled to share openly with her. No matter who she’s with, they get her full attention and interest. She never states something and then moves on before a response is given. Time seems to stand still for her when it comes to other people. Even though she has the next “thing” to do, the person engaging in a conversation with her would never know it.
The best time where we chat is over meals. There’s a regular cadence of getting the meal ready, saying a prayer over the food and for things happening in our lives, and then we dig in. She may be one of the best cooks on the planet. I know I’m biased, but her home cooking is always on point. We talk and talk even though we know other tasks need to be addressed later in the day. And, of course, you end with a dessert of some sort because she has the most enormous sweet tooth. Saying “no” isn’t even an option.
After a magnificent dinner of Irish Stew, we cleared the table because my aunts and uncles were coming over for the Friday night tradition of playing dominoes. My aunts and uncles are also in their 80s now. They didn’t know I was visiting and there was true joy, warm embraces, and a gentle kiss when we saw each other. I headed into the dining room to start playing when my mom grabbed my arm and said, “We visit first.” So, everyone went to the living room and an unhurried conversation ensued. It was glorious !!
We covered the obligatory “catch-up” items since we don’t see each other regularly. Then we easily transitioned to talking about what was happening in their lives. I was a keen observer who chimed in every so often but spent more time listening and enjoying hearing them share with each other. There was laughter, friendly poking at each other, and also updates on concerns about the health of family and friends. (Remember, they’re in their 80s.)
After about 45 minutes, my mom said, “Well, Steve was hopeful he’d get to join in our weekly dominoes game.” And, it was on !! How cool is it that I got to play a game with my mom and my aunts and uncles? There are 13 rounds in a full game of Mexican Train and I hadn’t laughed so hard during several ooh’s, aah’s and “Why did you play that there Steven?” The game flew by and we ended with the mandatory dessert and coffee. We had cherry pie for Februcherry (insert groan here) and vanilla ice cream.
The unhurried conversation flowed throughout the hours while we played the game. It was a thread keeping everything knit together. The ribbing of who was in what place was also wonderful. I ended up in 4th place out of the six of us and it didn’t matter at all. Having meaningful time with my family was what mattered.
The time at home was a reminder of the value of slowing down, paying attention, and enjoying each word that is spoken and shared. In our world, we spend far too much time sprinting from task to task like a giant pinball. Nothing, and no one, gets our total focus or time because we tell ourselves if we dare to alter our lightspeed life, then our world will fall into utter chaos.
IT JUST ISN’T TRUE !! (and it never has been)
I don’t know how long or how many times I’ll get to see my mom and aunts and uncles over the coming years in the future. I hope there are many more times versus fewer. We’re not guaranteed a certain amount of time on this planet. I wish we were, but it’s a true unknown.
Since that’s our reality, I’m going to be more conscientious and spend my time like I did this weekend. I’ve learned from my mom. I cherish unhurried conversations and do my best to have them with everyone every time we meet. Nothing is more important to me than giving others my time. Nothing.
This week slow down. You can and you should. There is an unhurried conversation waiting for you to initiate or join in. Life is too short to miss these. Be unhurried.