I’m in the midst of reading a book that is blowing my mind. It’s about stuff like the meaning of life, the nature of reality, the origins of the universe. The author is explaining some concepts I have been hearing for decades but never quite grasping in ways that actually are sinking in. One of those concepts is how we are all individuals, but also all part of the One. As I look at other people I can see they are reflections of me- probably for the first time ever. It’s still tenuous, it comes and goes, but I’m getting it.
Today is Sunday- Fourth of July weekend. Tywana has decided to bring her mother to our house to have dinner with us. I love my mother-in-law. I have been bless with a great in-law family from my brothers and sister in-law to my parents-in-law. Tywana’s father was taken from us by Alzheimer’s. Her mother is going through dementia now. She is no longer the woman she was just two or three years ago. It requires a great deal of patience to be around her for more than 15 or 20 minutes because not only does she repeat herself, it’s all negative. My favorite movie from childhood is The Wizard of Oz. I’ve seen that movies dozens of times. Guess what Margaret’s favorite thing to say to me is. That’s right. “There’s no place like home.”. It’s like she’s mocking me. The biggest line from my favorite movie and she’s ruined it for me. Kayla gives me a wink every time Margaret says it to me. But, she doesn’t say it just to me. She says it to everyone she meets. The place she lives is “like being in jail”. She wishes she had never seen the place. She wants to be back where she had her dog and her car and could visit her friends. All of this plays on a constant loop when you are with her. It only takes a few minutes to complete the track, then it repeats.
So, I ask myself what’s the lesson in this for me? Obviously, I need to learn patience. Tywana does more than anyone since she deals with it more than anyone. She’s been fantastic at dealing with it. Margaret doesn’t make it easy. One of the ways we try to deal with it is not fueling it. When she makes these comments, we’ll try to just ignore her. Well, even in her forgetful state where she literally cannot remember what happened 15 minutes ago, she has figured out when people ignore her so she’ll ask “Did you hear me?” until she gets a response. We still want her around us. She’s still part of the family. So, Tywana goes and picks her up and we all deal with it.
But, another thing I have learned since Shayna’s passing is Margaret’s wallowing in self-pity, lack of gratitude for what she had now and longing for a past that is not coming back is me- on blast. If looking at others is like looking into a mirror, looking her her doing this is like looking at myself in one of those mirrors that makes you look three times as fat as you are. I don’t constantly put it on a loop the way she does, but that’s only because I have the ability to filter and know it would drive other people crazy. Margaret says a lot of the things I feel. As we are dropping her off this evening back in her apartment, listening to her go on and on about how bad she has it I’m reminded that I’m not doing so well myself on my gratitude practice. I’ve been focused on what I don’t have, what I did have. I’ve been focused on “Why me?”
I think I deserve a little slack. Having my beautiful daughter pass unexpectedly at 15 years old deserves a bit of a pity party. So, I’m not saying I’m just going to be over this today, or next week or probably ever. But, Margaret has held up a mirror to me so that I can see that I need to check myself and not take this too far. Life is what is is and what is was meant to be. I truly believe that whatever happens is what was meant to happen. There are going to be times we don’t like it. There are going to be times when we can’t immediately see the purpose, but we have to first and foremost learn to accept what is.