As I've written previously, I'm privileged to be part of a family support team for my mother, Lorna, who lives in Naperville, Illinois. At 91, she is an inspiration to her five children, her friends, caregivers, and the managers of the supportive living community in Naperville that she's about to make her new home.
Since May, when she took a fall in her kitchen, we've all been growing more aware that, while she's completely able in mind, body and spirit, it might be a good idea for Mom to exchange condo living for community living. There have been decisions to make, family conferences, and open, honest dialogue along the way. There has been conflict, too--each one an opportunity to widen our perspectives about what is best for our mother. And I'm grateful for how we're figuring it out together.
Back in the spring when Mom was recovering her strength after the fall, the situation was more difficult. At the time, I thought a great deal about what was most important when making decisions that affected Mom and all of us, financially and emotionally. And I came up with three directives that I continually refer to whenever a decision has to be made:
So you can imagine how my ears perked up when a good friend told me about a book she'd read, called No Regrets, written by a man (Barry Neil Kaufman) finding connection with his father who is dying of cancer. While the circumstances are not quite the same--my mother is healthy and active--there are elements that ring loud and clear. They speak to anyone of us who understands the concept of "death as an ally" -- the little voice that (if we choose to listen) says: Hey, this could all end in a blink. Hold her close. Tell him you love him every day. Be grateful for this ki moment.
If there's a conflict in your life, resolve it. If you can help someone, do it. When you or someone you love is about to walk into that good night, how do you want to remember them or be remembered? Who or what are you taking for granted? If you had one moment more, how would you spend it?
I'll end with a few excerpts from No Regrets, wishing you awareness for the ki moments in your life.
From No Regrets, by Barry Neil Kaufman:
- We each live in our own worlds, peering out from the non-neutral lens of our eyes.
- This is what I have been trying to teach myself...most of my adult life: what happens in life is not nearly as significant as what we make up, or believe, about what happens. We are not in charge of many of the events or activities that occur around us, but we do fully control how we choose to see and experience those events and activities, as well as how we respond to them. Loss, or fulfillment? Moving away, or moving toward?
- We make up beliefs about people all the time––about their thoughts, feelings, motivations, intentions––often based on speculation, as if we could read minds. Then we pass judgment on each other or the events around us....
- We tell ourselves the stories we want to hear and make ourselves either the heroes or the victims.