Sunday, January 03, 2016

Visits with Mum

2015 was a plunge into an ocean of change. At the beginning of August I retired from a career I had loved and worked at for almost 32 years. The months that followed went by fast as I transitioned into a new life with both the treasured gift and responsibility, of time.

The very first Sunday of my retirement, as I drove out of the church parking lot, I decided to drop in on my mother-in-law, who at 89 finds that due to some unpredictable health concerns, watching church on TV works best for her these days. That Sunday afternoon I found her in her backyard sitting on a garden swing.

I joined her on the swing, and, for the next hour or so, I reveled in the freedom of no pressure to rush through the moment and the pleasure of her company. After all, I had tomorrow to do everything that needed doing; I had no pressing  "to do" list running interference in the back of my mind! 

In September I began meeting two friends for a Wednesday morning walk in the conservation area near her house, and fell quite naturally into a pattern of picking up a steeped tea at Tim's and dropping in for a visit with Mum afterwards.

Over tea we commiserate on, and laugh at, the various indignities of aging; and I listen as she shares memories from the past, so aware of the treasure that these moments are. Often I scramble for paper and pen so that I can record a story correctly; stories of her childhood and growing up during the second World War.

It is almost 30 years since she was widowed, losing Paul's father to cancer when he was only 62. In this photo of them together, her dark auburn hair seems to fit with her spunky and determined personality. She may have been a pastor's wife, but she was not beyond throwing a boot at a bullying person who worked in the office of the shoe factory she worked in when they first came to Canada, a tale she tells with a sense of "justice served," and laughter at the memory of the approval of her fellow workers and her foreman's shocked, "Ohhh, Brenda."

I told one of her stories to my friend Susan, who told it to her Sunday School class. The children could hardly believe that it had happened to "the lady with the walker," that they see sometimes on Sunday mornings. That's the story I will write next! :)


Dave Hingsburger said...

Someone once said that every time an old person dies a library burns down. I think that's so true, the accumulated knowledge and the wisdom that often comes through stories is so important. We need to treasure, as you are doing, the opportunity to listen and learn!

Belinda Burston said...

Dave, I agree! In our society we are so rushed that relationships are shelved and so, too often, are people, especially those who run at a slower pace. We lose so much by not slowing down ourselves enough to listen. I'm grateful for having that opportunity now.

Anonymous said...

I love Dave's comment. So true. I often mourn for the loss of the person's influence as much as the loss of their presence. There is one less person who shares my life, or prays for me, or remembers with me...How wonderful it is that you now have the time, Belinda, to spend with Mum, and glean from her life. Enjoy!

Belinda Burston said...

Thanks friend--for reading and commenting. Yes, each person's influence is so precious. Mum B never liked to be out front or in the limelight but she drew people nevertheless. She is much loved and I aim to make the most of the treasure of time I have with her!