Just the word, millennium, creates pressure and a notion that I'm supposed to be feeling something I'm not. I was thinking the millennium wasn't going to be a big deal in my life, but that started to change two days ago when I began to think about my relationship with my mother.
As late as October, 1999, my mom and I weren't talking much. We'd gone sometimes seven to ten years without speaking. Now we are talking on the phone and I'm going to visit her in Texas. We are throwing a party to honor her life.
Yesterday, I spent the whole day getting her celebration invitations ready for mailing to the eighty-five people she wants invited. When I first asked her for the names, she said, "Oh, no one will come."
"I don't think so, Mom, " I persevered, "Who are these people? Are they your Christmas card list?"
"Are they on your Christmas card list?"
"No. You asked me for a list of people I care about. I've known each person on that list and, at one time or another, have felt close to them."
That evening, she called and said, "There's a hall down the street that sells trays. I can spend one hundred dollars for food. I want my sisters to come and your brother."
Now, you understand, I haven't been in a room with these people for at least ten years. They know I haven't spoken to her much. Out of the blue they are going to get an invitation to come to a celebration of my mom's life, and they have to do something in order to be there, write up some kind of anecdote, or story, or explain how she's influenced their lives. Geesh, Lyn, I thought, you know how to do things!
As I made out the invitations, I kept thinking about the card I sent her this week thanking her for loving me when I was hard to love. Something must be changing! It wasn't so long ago I could hardly stand to talk with her on the phone!
The change? What brought it about? As I methodically folded one set of pages after another, put one stamp and two labels after another on two sets of envelopes, I must have gotten into my right brain, the one that thinks without censoring.
First came amazement that I was doing this at all. Second, even more astounding, my mom and I were working on something together. A few more envelopes, and I was thinking maybe the millennium must have had something to do with all this change.
I remembered years before when I couldn't heal the past. I'd tried. I stopped working on the envelopes for a few moments and thought. I spent thirty-four years attempting to heal the hurt, anger and the sense of total isolation and abandonment I felt as a child. Not until we reached the core of my therapy in October of 1999 did I have any success. I'd been in therapy pretty steadily since '85. It wasn't until I retired in '98 that I began to work toward the changes I was seeing in my mind.
The first revelation that came was my therapist telling me, "You are a beautiful person." He's full of it, I thought, initially. I look terrible! My hair isn't done, and look at me! I was angry with him for a week. Then, I realized that God loves me just the way I am. I don't have to change. Pressure gone.
Once we got that straightened out, there was the conversation that revolved around grace, forgiveness given because God loves me. Next, he explained that I was intolerant of people who were intolerant. He pointed out the times I didn't accept people who were inflexible, and I'd become angry with them. He suggested that one gauge of my change and healing would be that I wouldn't get as angry at them as I had in the past. In fact, I'd understand how fearful they were when they didn't understand me, and how that fear would cause them to become more inflexible than ever.
He had me read a book on grace. In it, the author said, "If we are forgiven through grace, how can we not give grace to others in return?"
Looking back, now, it all seems so simple. As I read the version of the New Testament, The Message, I realized our faith, if like children's, will move mountains. We will be as grains of mustard seed. We will not hide our lights under bushels.
My mountain was moved. There was a talk with my brother. There was talk between him and my mother. When I wrote Happy Birthday on the monthly check I send to her, she called me to thank me. It was painful to hear her gratitude. I knew that pain. I felt the relief of someone's accepting me. I knew what it meant for her to tell me what she did when she called.
That's how it started. A little loving gesture. A call. A communication of real feelings. Then a letter saying that what I got from her influenced me and has helped make me who I am today.
Slowly, a little at a time, we are beginning a new kind of relationship. We will make the time we have together fun from here on. As my mom said last night when we hung up, "Just remember. We're going to have fun!" And you know what? We will. We really will.
How come? How come I'm not fighting the changes? How come I'm going to Texas and I'm calm, not anxious like before? How come I "know" that this time visiting my mother will be okay? How come it wasn't there all those years, and now it is? How is it that I know my mom loved and still loves me, even though she didn't show it like I wanted her to? "How come?" my inner child would ask in wonder. I'd just smile and think some more about the past few months.
Lyn Carr started going to movies while in her mother's womb. She's a film buff, has taken film analysis and gone to film school for a bit. Born in Dalhart, Texas during WWII, she was an Air Force brat and moved every two years. Lyn got a degree in Education and taught for 34 years until her retirement in 1998. "I've been called a renaissance woman by a number of people because of my broad interests. I love being an entrepreneur and operating my own custom floral design business out of my home. I'm a clutterer, love people, nature, flowers and anything to do with the creative process. Writing is fun, too, especially rewriting when there's an editing software program and an editor available and I have lots of time for redoing a piece."
E-mail Lyn at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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