I’ve spent over a week in the hospital with my mom. From pre-op days, surgery, ICU and now recovery, I’ve had many moments of wonder, worry and even joy as I watch an amazing woman who has spent most of her years caring for others – her four children, many toddlers at day care, her mom during her later years, and my dad (who suffered a stroke 18 months ago) – now be faced with turning to her own care.
I’ve watched her face for over a week, looking for clues to what was going on inside her soul. Sometimes, it leaked out with great simplicity.
Mom, can I get you anything at all? Is there anything you want or need?
“I am content.”
Other times, it was more frank. When asked what she had decided about going home or going to a rehab unit, she stated, “I’m on strike from thinking today.”
Last night, while we watched the Papal Vigil on Copacabana Beach, enjoying the music and peace together, she talked about her hope for the next generation of Christians and what they may do to church as we know it.
“I hope I’m around to see it,” she said – and smiled at the thought.
I never thought that mom would have to endure open heart surgery. She’s put in much effort over the years to stay healthy – walking, water exercises, yoga, stretching, cooking most meals from scratch, taking vitamins – her sisters said when I called them about her surgery, “But she’s always been the healthy one!”
And so I’m watching. And learning. I’m seeing no anger, no questioning, no why is this happening. When I reminded her of all her healthy habits, she said simply, “Well, I could have done a little better.” I sensed no blame or guilt, just the facts. We could all do a little better.
Soon she’s off to a new chapter. Rehab, largely on her own. Returning home to find her way back to health. Working for more steps, deeper breaths and increased strength.
She’ll have to draw deep for determination and strength needed. There may be lonely nights and difficult days. But I know she’ll find what she needs. My favorite mom saying through all of this?
When caretakers comment on her improvement, getting better, and working back to good health, she simply says, “That is my intention.”
That doesn’t mean she knows exactly how things will turn out. But no matter the outcome of her healing, her life situation, and that of my dad, I think she understands this:
Cultivating right intention does not mean you abandon goals if things don’t turn out the way you think. You continue to use them, but they exist within a larger context of meaning that offers the possibility of peace beyond the fluctuations caused by pain and pleasure, gain and loss.
Peace. Shalom. Namaste om shanti. Pax et bonum.
Thank you, mama, for all you are still teaching me.