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August 28, 2013

The last leg of our vacation was a trip home to visit my mother.  I am writing this to process my frustration into gratitude.  Given the distance between us, her in Chicago and me in Minneapolis I only see her two times a year.  Our quality time always involves a project.  So this year my job was to put back all of the various pictures on her shelves in the corner where her bed is.  Now this does not sound like a huge job even if you factor in her smoking which means everything had to be wiped off.  What makes it a big job is the fact that my mother is almost blind because of macular degeneration and can barely walk because she never got her hips fixed.  Because she is almost blind she cannot really see the precious things and pictures I am putting on these shelves so it is important that I put them back close to the exact same position they were in when she could see them so that she can see them in her memory when she looks at them.  This requires that we talk about each and every picture and sentimental object.  Now if I was a different person this could be sped up.  Because what happens is that my mother will say things that open a window to her rather narcissistic  psyche.  In fairness to my mother she is the kind of narcissist who will acknowledge she thinks its all about her just before she says “look at me”.  Now if I could just ignore these things and let them go and not challenge her perspective this would be relatively painless.  But that is not who I am.  I have always been the one that says “what are you talking about ” or “look there is an elephant in the room”.  So we processed and we processed.  And I learned something.  I think the secret in aging well is to never forget that happiness comes from a life dedicated to giving and not receiving.  You cannot nor should you rely on relationships which are based solely on obligation or age.  You must always be part of the relationship in a mutual way.  To do this you have to at some point find your worth within.  Your worth comes from your contribution not the recognition of that contribution.   

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