I live near the edge of our continent with easy access to destination beaches, yet I don’t access them. Instead, I prioritize “work” obligations, and I’m retired! A career in education trained me to move at an intense pace, and I brought that into my retirement. I know that the self-inflicted To Do list will never end, yet I let it commandeer my days any way.
But today, my obligation was to be the driver for a surgical procedure recipient, so I had to kill time in La Jolla while I waited. I spent it strolling on the beach, and besides breathing, and thinking, I picked up sea glass.
My thoughts were mostly about my dear mother. It’s her 87th birthday today, and this beautiful, strong, once vibrant woman is spending her days in an assisted living home with severe dementia. I cannot visit her because of COVID-19, and I find comfort in the fact that she wouldn’t know me, or even know that she was being visited for that matter.
I will remember my mom today, for her, because she can’t. She was number 12 of 13 children, born in the pit of the Depression. Earning a scholarship to college, she became a teacher, the first in her family. Her sisters became nurses, a librarian, and office workers. She taught on and off while having us five kids, then started the Project Headstart Program with a good friend when we were still young. I was entering junior high when she returned to full time teaching, and I marveled at how she seemed to “do it all” with energy to spare. Meals were on the table every night at six. Us kids pursued sports, dance, music, scouts, whatever we were interested in, and she and dad kept a weekly date night. We camped on the weekends in the desert or the mountains, depending on the season. We travelled back and forth, up and down, all across our beautiful continent in the summers.
She had a very large circle of friends and a busy social calendar. Everyone thought of her as kind, enthusiastic, and caring. I miss her so much.
Maybe because she was a teacher, she managed our family time with such efficiency, and we knew it was certainly not a thing to be wasted. She wasn’t one to sit still. When we got older, we would gently chide her because she’d jump up from a family dinner and start clearing while some of us were still enjoying our last bite. After all, there was a time for relaxed conversations and savoring the moment. But she had moved on to the next thing mentally, and there was no slowing her down.
All that to explain why it’s so hard now that she’s not only slowed down, but screeched to a halt, spending day after day sitting in a chair. Killing time.
I don’t know how to wrap this up in a cheerful way. So I’ll just say, even in these crazy times we are living in, time is still precious. I need to stop thinking that my real and normal life will resume after all of this is over, and that until then, I just have to endure in a kind of holding pattern. As they say, this life isn’t a dress rehearsal. I’ll choose to embrace every moment and give God thanks for this time.