My mom has always been a feisty woman, filled with wit and a sense of humor. Give her a glass of wine and she will unabashedly tell you what you need to do to fix yourself, you know, what’s wrong with you. She says what some may think, I try not to laugh. It’s hard, she’s funny. She has been this way for a very long time, this isn’t just because of age. Age has advanced it however. She will forget what she said a few moments ago and she will say it loudly, since she cannot hear, over and over. You just have to smile and be grateful she is there talking to you.
Honey is stubborn and quick tempered; hmm so am I. Much of the last 15 years has been me learning and working on reacting differently. Sometimes I get it right, often the stubbornness takes over. I can be stubborn. I know that. I sometimes stand my ground to no avail just to prove a point. And I think I’m faking people out and they don’t think I’m stubborn! Ha! I’m my mom when it comes to these reactions, all born out of not feeling worthy. I have had to unlearn that.
Honey is also not always very patient. Okay, she is rarely patient, unless it is with her grandchildren when they were little. Then she was more patient than the best kindergarten teacher. She taught, she listened, she helped them. But patience is not a virtue that she has, nor do I. Another thing to unlearn. But I haven’t really unlearned that one yet.
Here we sit on her 95th birthday, feeling blessed that she is alive, speaking, caring for herself, in the house I grew up in, with my dad. Blessed, grateful, lucky, whatever it is I’m so glad it is. And I am realizing that part of my time with my mom is to learn the lesson of patience, and that quick temper.
That quick temper is showing up a bit more than I would like lately, most notably in road rage. Until someone else taught me a lesson about that!
I was driving home from my weekly stint in Connecticut. This drive gets old and is becoming really rote, where I may not pay attention as much as I should since I know the ride so well. As you come off the Merritt Parkway to slip onto the Cross Westchester to head to the Tappan Zee Bridge, you must a three-laned service road that is always bustling with high speed traffic. Most people that drive that though know that there are people who will need to cut across it at quick speeds in order to enter the Cross Westchester parkway. I was on the phone with a colleague as I was shooting across the lanes at high speed. Another car was travelling south and instead of letting me cut across, he sped up to block me. He blocked the entrance so that I wouldn’t get on in front of him. My poor colleague heard me curse up a storm as I yelled at him, “What are you fucking doing? You freaking asshole!” and then flipped the New Jersey salute! Probably not my best moment and certainly I had to apologize profusely to the person on the phone.
Something told me to watch this man in his gold jeep, and so as I sped down the highway I kept one eye on where he was. I saw him speeding up and getting into the left lane, as I was in the center lane. He pulled up along- side of me and opened his passenger window closest to me. I saw an object fly out of the window and heard it hit my back door and then hit the ground. As I saw it bounce in my side view mirror, I realized it was a plastic cup and that my car was probably fine. But I was not. I was shocked and shaken. What if he had something more powerful than a plastic cup in his car? What if he had a gun? What if? I realized at that moment that my quick temper and reaction including flipping him the bird was something I needed to better control. Normally I do on the road, I have friends with much more road rage than I and yet I let that guy get to me. I realized at that moment that I was triggered, that my nerves were on the surface and I needed to figure out why.
My mom would never think about why she reacts that way. In fact her comment to me is always, “I’m just like my father was, quick temper but I forget what I got mad at quickly.” She is right, she is quick tempered and most times doesn’t even realize she is yelling or angry. I continue to try to learn from her and change my patterns. But this time, this random stranger who obviously also has anger issues reinforced this lesson!
Mom has and is my best teacher. She has taught me compassion, empathy, loving unconditionally, and giving of myself. She has taught me to laugh at myself and find humor in the worst of times. These she taught me as she lived her life. The lessons today are more me realizing that I want to be happier than mom has been. To be less self- deprecating, and more aware of how my temper affects others.
Mom is 95 today and amazes me daily. My love for her grows with each day even when I think it cannot grow more. My patience for my mother allows me to practice being more patient in life. How can you be impatient with someone who has lived on this earth 95 years. She has a right to forget, a right to repeat and a right to not always know what is going on around her.
Yes I am blessed and lucky and grateful for her. I am also blessed, lucky and grateful for the lessons I learn as she continues to this day to make a better version of who I am.
Thank you Mom.