So, I was out with Mom the weekend after Thanksgiving and came across some beautiful Christmas cards on sale. I suggested that we buy them and she agreed. After a moment of hesitation in the store we picked up several packs in line with our family’s tradition of sending lots of cards.
I knew that card writing would need to be a joint project. So, we pulled out her address book and got started. It was harder than I had expected. Mom remembers the closest people in her life — the friends of many years and the family. Friends who were most recent acquaintances or closer to my father seem forgotten at this point. I spent a lot of time reminding her of people but gradually concluded that we should just send cards to the people that she remembers. Even that was difficult as she was uncertain of what to write on the cards. I debated whether to skip the whole project but I had felt that it was likely the last year that such a thing would be possible. So we pushed ahead.
These kinds of moments bring out such opposing feelings for me. Is it better to push Mom a little? Or is it better to let the harder things quietly move into her past? Both approaches make sense but obviously I can only choose one in each situation.
We only made it through about 20 cards and that was a tough afternoon. We will not get cards out to all the folks that we would like to send them to this year. As I write that though I realize that the “we” is a little fuzzy. I guess the “we” that I carry around is my sense of what Mom would have wanted when she was normal. I have spent some time in my life sorting through her high expectations and standards which are are not always possible to live up to. Only my incredibly functional mother could meet those kinds of expectations. It strikes me that I probably should be gentle inflicting Mom’s own standards on her self of now.