Over the last few months, I took a break from my blogging while my Mom was journeying through the final months of her life. I lacked the inspiration to write over that time, and felt my higher priority was to work through all the “end-of-life” twists and turns and feelings that were present.
My mom lived a very long and full life. She remained in independent living until the end, determined to stay connected to the community of friends she had established over the last 9 years. She was actively engaged in cultural activities, eating dinner with her friends, and trying new things, up until the last few months when she needed round the clock care.
I spoke at the memorial service attended by her community of friends, and wanted to share what I called – The Story of the Phone Call.
Until 9 years ago, my mom and I had a somewhat challenging relationship. I spoke to her every week, yet the details are quite foggy. Then shortly after her last of her 11 siblings passed away, she decided it was time to move. We were in the process of relocating and I thought it would be fun to have her visit our new home for Thanksgiving.
It was nice having my mom as a guest in our new home and we had a chance to talk about her moving out of the home she had lived in for over 40 years. During those conversations, I sensed she was feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of clearing the house of its years’ worth of furniture, books, photographs, memorabilia, and the stuff of daily life in order to put in on the market.
Something in me “knew” I had to help her through the move. While I have siblings, it felt like it was my place as her daughter to support my Mom through this effort. I stepped into the role of being a cross between a project manager and a coach. I suggested she look at clearing out the house like she would a window. Each drawer, file, and closet would be a pane of glass in that window. As her project manager/coach, I started to call her every day to see how the project was going.
I tried for a 5pm call, as it was a good time to take a break from work and just before her dinner hour. Over several months, she succeeded in clearing out enough to put the house on the market. After she moved, I continued the calls as she settled into her new place.
The calls ranged from 5 minutes to 45 minutes and covered various topics. Sometimes it was as simple as, “how was your day?” Other times our chats would dive into a variety of topics including, you did something that pissed me off!, where is your next trip? what is your next goal? As the years went by, discussions about end of life were periodically included.
When her decline accelerated about 9 months before her passing, our daily calls became shorter. I labeled them “speed calls” as they would last maybe 30 or 60 seconds, but I still made them every day. During the last month of her life, she was sleeping more and more. I made the calls, but didn’t always have a chance to speak with her. On the last day of her life, I asked her aide put the phone next to her ear and was able to have my final call with my Mom, letting her know I loved her and affirming that I knew she loved me.
Through these calls, we worked through many things and came to a new level of love for each other. I gained a better understanding of what she had experienced throughout her life. I built an appreciation for what she accomplished as the first full-time working mom in our neighborhood at the age of 45, and all that entailed. I found her to be a role model and inspiration by how she was able to let go at each transition point such as giving up driving, taking her last plane trip at 95, and eventually needing round the clock care. After a bit of resistance, she settled into a new pattern and found gratitude for all that she had.
While the calls have ended, I created a relationship with my mom that had not been previously possible. I did my inner transformational work, and that supported me in evolving my relationship with her to a place of peace, love, and gratitude. My mom also transformed during those years. I am forever grateful for what started as a series of calls to manage a project, became the foundation for a relationship with my mom that I can carry forever in my heart.
Are there relationships in your life that need transforming or a new perspective to help you see how blessed you are?
© 2017 Systems of Change, LLC