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change: in the stream

when the table turns: change

by Judy
July 4th, 2013 

Since I started writing this blog, I notice a theme I keep returning to is about change: changes in my mother, myself, in our relationship and in the whole situation. Being in such proximity to my mom every day and also writing so often, I can’t help but be reminded about this. I will read something I wrote only a month ago and realize this is no longer true…yet again the tables are turning. For example these days my mother isn’t laughing as much in that abandoned way that I wrote about and the joking she was doing with Nickey in speaking “pretend” Chinese seems to have run most of its course. Occasionally my mom seems depressed even though she says she is not, but then the next day it’s gone. It’s like things pass through her and then they are over. They don’t have a lasting effect one way or the other. Is this unique to my mom or is this part of being old? I don’t know.

My mom said to me today she wished she didn’t have to be in a wheelchair. This was first time she ever said that. It came out of the blue and then disappeared.

She still laughs…she still has spirit and a sense of fun but it’s not as often.

Because I am with my mother so much, I can easily observe these on-going changes. In contrast, it’s more difficult to see change in myself - to be objective. And certainly change takes so many forms – physical, emotional and then more subtle forms to do with one’s whole relationship to life and with what might be called one’s inner core or ‘maturing’ self. It’s quite easy to be aware of physical changes, like if I don’t consistently exercise, I definitely notice the difference in my flexibility and strength. That is quite evident. But what about those changes in how we respond, perceive, think or just how we are? That’s more subtle and often can only be seen in comparison to what was. For example with my mom and in general I can see change by looking back: “Hey, I’m not reacting to this as I might have in the past. There’s more space, more perspective…there’s more understanding. How did that happen?” I didn’t literally “do” it and yet I have changed.

Sometimes it’s only after time has passed that the picture comes into focus. On the day to day level, clarity is not always possible. For example, right now it does look like my mom is losing more and more interest in life; in food; in what’s happening around her and she also has a bladder infection which could be affecting her dramatically. At the same time just today she was obviously excited about having her two “adopted” grandchildren, the children of Nickey, a six and one and a half year old, come for July 4th. She already was planning for it, asking me to buy ice cream and cookies, buy some toys etc. That generous mom who loves to give abundantly starts to bubble up.

So with my mom, the picture isn’t totally clear. It will only get more defined as time passes - in hindsight. And that applies to so much of our life, to ourselves and to whatever we are encountering…the picture gets bigger and clearer in time. In some ways, death, that final end, can clarify, can elucidate certain questions. With that finality, one can look back and reinterpret what was happening. But even then it’s not the end. Time “marches on” and with that more is seen: the understanding widens and deepens. 

It makes me think how much humility one really needs in this life when we are often so sure of ourselves and our view. How much do we really see and take in? We are in an enormous life process being influenced by so many factors. When we are literally in the midst of the stream, it takes a lot to get a bigger view on what is happening. None of us have the whole picture. We can, as a human being, always strive to take in, understand and see more and at the same time keep that space inside, that humility, that knows it is impossible to grasp it all and always will be.

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