My 90-year-old mother is a positive force in my life. She lives independently, walks up to a mile most days, just passed her driver’s exam again this year, and is one of those people who makes you feel better just being in her presence.
She took a fall in her kitchen recently and hit the ground pretty hard. Luckily nothing was broken, but her body, her confidence and her spirit of independence were badly bruised. Family gathered, and being the oldest of five siblings I became the organizer of parental care and support.
Worry, Worry, Worry...
I’m a worrier—did I say that? I can fret about anything and everything that finds its way into my consciousness. And if there’s nothing to worry about, I’ll find something. So you can imagine how I wrapped my worry around this event. My sisters and brother will be happy to verify this.
Although I live halfway across the country, I stayed with Mom as much as possible during her recuperation. And I accomplished a lot from afar—making sure she was safe, cared for and tended to at all times. And I worried. I didn’t sleep, had difficulty focusing on my work, badgered my siblings, and cried a lot. At any given moment, a large part of my brain space was occupied with concern for my mother.
The Way of Blending With Energy
Foundational to my work is the practice and teaching of Aikido (pronounced eye-key-doe), a Japanese martial art centered in the peaceful resolution of conflict. The Aikidoist’s goal is to render the attack harmless without doing harm. Translated, Aikido means “the way (do) of blending (ai) with energy (ki). Much of my writing is about life’s ki (key) moments—moments of mindfulness in which you are fully aware of your life energy and your ability to influence your environment. Ki moments hold challenge and opportunity. How you handle them is what makes life interesting and powerful.
I can’t count the ki moments since Mom’s fall—decisions, discussions, doubts, debates, and—yes—drama. But mostly delight. Delight in the resilience of my mother’s heart, mind and spirit. Delight in seeing the love of her family flow back to her and the “unbearable lightness of being” in seeing this two-way flow and her face light up with the love she feels.
As Philip Simmons wrote in his uplifting book, Learning to Fall, about his struggle/dance with the disease ALS, “Life throws things at us that we cannot predict and cannot control. What we can control is who we are along the way.” My mother is my mentor in this.
As I write, Mom is regaining her strength and confidence. My family is growing in love for one another and in our acceptance of each other’s special qualities, limitations, and ways of loving.
And I continue to practice flowing with life’s ki moments.