This morning I woke up thinking of my mom and all the wisdom she shared with me during her life.
My mother gave birth to seven children, raised six of them, buried two of them, and still managed to be a source of love, kindness and compassion to everyone that knew her.
My mom could be in the midst of the worst situation and still be able to think positive and inject some sense of hope into it.
In particular, I was remembering a train trip to Montreal we took one summer when I was six months pregnant with my daughter. We thought it would be fun to ride the rails, spend time together and see the sights along the way. Well…several hours into the trip something went wrong with some system on the train and the toilets weren’t flushing and the air conditioning stopped working. Because I’m often cold, I had worn fleece pants and a sweatshirt. I was fat, pregnant, wrapped in head to toe fleece, riding in an increasingly hot train and needed to use the bathroom at frequent intervals. The ride became an endurance test. It felt important to me to bitch and complain about how hot I was and how disgusting the bathrooms were at frequent intervals during our ride. All my mother did was try to soothe me, to make things easier for me and tell me to ‘look on the bright side.’ She kept telling me we’d be there soon and how wonderful it was that we were doing this trip together.
I wish I could tell you that I took her advice and shut my bitchy mouth and came to the realization that she was right. That to be together sharing this adventure was the really important thing and all these minor inconveniences were just that…minor. The major thing was that I was with my mom. I wish I could tell you that I realized that one day she would be gone and that I should treasure every moment I got to spend with her.
But I didn’t.
I continued my bitch fest until we got to Montreal, where we discovered that our bags were missing and that the city was in the grip of an excessive heat wave, with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees each day. Let me remind you that I was fat and pregnant and wearing a fleece jumpsuit so I, of course, bitched some more.
My mom continued to tell me to ‘look on the bright side’ as we found our way to our hotel, which in short order we discovered was actually a room in some sort of brothel. It was small, it was dirty, and there were actual pubic hairs on the sheets. (Yes I said it. PUBIC hair!)
We tried to book other accommodations, but there was a huge convention in town and not a room to be had. So my mom said, ‘Okay well, we’ll just make the best of it!’ and stripped the bed, turned the sheets around and said, ‘we’ll just sleep on this side.’
After a few days of me sweating, waddling and bitching all over Montreal, my luggage showed up, the convention left town and we moved to a beautiful five star hotel.
All these years later, I don’t remember much at all about that trip. I can’t recall where we stayed or what we saw or ate.
But I do remember my mother.
I remember her being so kind and loving. I remember her continuous efforts to make the best of the situation. I remember her facing each incident head on and deciding how she could make it better instead of wasting energy complaining,
My mom was right about many things, but on this one she was wrong. She said we would take this trip because seeing all these new sights would make lasting memories.
But it’s not the sights I remember. It’s the way she dealt with my sweating, waddling, complaining ass. It’s her refusal to join me in my pity party. It’s her unfathomable ability to make the best of the worst situations. It’s her ability to be a source of love and kindness when the person she’s dealing with is not being loving or kind at all.
Funny thing is, one of my biggest pet peeves is people who bitch and complain in situations where something is affecting everyone, but they act like they’re the only ones suffering. Like in a car full of people stuck in a traffic jam, there’s always the one guy who feels it necessary to bitch and complain every five minutes how pissed he is that we’re stuck in traffic. I always think ‘no shit! We all hate it, but you bitching about it constantly isn’t helping anything. It fact, it’s making it worse!’
Of course I now realize the reason those people bother me so much is because they remind me of myself and that trip to Montreal.
Life can be so hard sometimes. We can’t undo the past. We can’t go back and be loving to the people we treated so harshly.
All we can do is take the lessons learned and do our best to apply those lessons in our lives now, and strive to be better than we used to be.
And that will have to be enough.
PS- We flew home