By Yasmin Tiwana
I sit here thinking of my mother. Beloved and wise. She has always lived with me, except on rare occasion and of short duration. I recall several relationships I have had, which in hindsight, should be viewed with some humor! These included a boyfriend who left unexpectedly, a fiancé that left me, and a fiancé that I left (because of his fooling around). Her common sense, optimism and humor about my difficulty with fiancés , helped me get through those times. Mother is almost 94 now, and believing she is invincible, it is a real shock to see her become increasingly frail and withdrawn, coupled with the fact that her health issues have become quite serious.
I become thoughtful and remember my youth. She always had a smile and in all 16 countries travelled during my childhood, and attending 11 different schools, we always had a home which became our refuge and castle, making these changes, palatable and acceptable. Due in part to my maternal English grandmother, we celebrated Christmas. My mother would always make sure that appropriate Christmas celebrations took place, even in the desert. Coming from a mixed multi religious and cultural background, our family celebrated the meaning and beauty of everything from Christmas, to Easter and Eid to Diwali. My mother also provided a sensible dose of cerebral Buddhism when appropriate.
It should also be mentioned that she was not perfect. From a teenagers point of view, she was strict about our doing our homework, daily chores around the house and helping with the upkeep of our dog. We had to earn our pocket money. As is the custom in America, I baby sat for our neighbors, from the age of 13 and my brother mowed lawns and we got to keep whatever we earned. And today, in her old age, she can have a quick temper and display impatience when she feels it is warranted.
Yes, my mother is mortal. Health issues are a major concern with her. It is difficult fact to accept when she has been the center of our lives. I myself, am feeling the effects of inevitable aging. And yet, I expect her to always remain 45 yrs old, full of energy and grace. She is still beautiful at 94 and I tease her by insisting that she wear pink lipstick, even under her Covid mask. 😊.
My grandmother always said that to be well groomed and dressed properly for the occasion, revealed a discipline and upbringing, from which one could draw strength. Noblesse oblige – do your best to help others, because it was the right thing to do. And what’s more, be cheerful and strong, even in the most demanding of circumstances. The popular slogan, ‘Keep calm and carry on’ always brings Mimi back to mind. (We called my grandmother, Mimi). I mention my grandmother because she had a great deal of influence in bringing up my mother and taught her the values that Mom passed on to us.
Some thoughts: fear of future loss, can make a person stop enjoying the present. That is the conundrum of human family relationships. We seek to be prepared for the future and the inevitable, by worrying ahead of time about a difficult situation. We think that this ‘worry’ or preparation will make us stronger, giving us a sense of increased control. Instead, we miss out on today – now, the present. Of course, I speak only for myself. My brother, a year younger than me, has more courage than I do. He has the rare combination of pragmatism and spirituality.
My mother is an old soul. Very wise. If there is reincarnation, she must have lived many lives to gain her wisdom in this one. Every normal human being thinks their mother is perfect. I agree. I am a vociferous member of that club. Mother has that rare combination of non possessive warmth resulting in profound insight into the human psyche. I am delighted that I can still make her laugh. That fact and a shared journey through life – what more could my family and I ask for? Hopefully, with God’s grace...a few more years together.