My mother loved routine. Always. And this stood her in good stead. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008, she was fairly advanced in the disease progression when official word came down. I believe it was her rigid adherence to routine that allowed her to compensate and keep DOING. Her entire life, she found meaning in the DOING of taking every house they bought in whatever state they lived and turning it into a home. She was very content doing this, because she was following her “one true” thing – loving Bob.
Three weeks ago, she said to me, as she did every time we talked, “I CAN STILL DO WHAT I NEED TO DO.” This of course was a total work of fiction. But it was her heart’s intention. And she tried, oh how she tried.
LIFE LESSON #2: When we commit to something, really commit, it requires that we actually DO stuff.
People talk a good game about commitment, but rarely have I seen a person as committed to their “one true thing” as my mother. She DID things because of her commitment. She did hard things. She did things that were not preferred. Here are a few of them:
- My mom was terrified of flying. But Bob Jones was a pilot, and if you have ever known a pilot, you know how much a pilot loves to fly. My sister-in-law/love told about riding numerous times in the backseat with my mom flying hither and yon, my mom gripping Debbie’s knee tightly until they finally landed safely. My mom hated flying, but she loved Bob more.
- My mom was terrified of motorcycles. But Bob Jones loved them. I never remember her riding on the back – she would often opt to coerce me into going on a ride if he wanted a riding buddy – because she didn’t like it. And, more importantly, it messed up her hair. Perhaps that was why it was so surprising to me after the Alzheimer’s set in that she and Bob would occasionally show up at my brother’s house on the Gold Wing. In the end, my mom forgot she refused to ride on the back of a motorcycle and instead, remembered that she loved Bob.
- My mom hated getting sweaty or dirty. But when we were kids we went camping, she cut the grass, we worked in disgustingly dusty small airports while my dad flew banners, and a host of other ungirly activities. Why? Because she had higher priorities than her preferences.
I guess that’s why I’m spending a lot of time thinking about my own commitments. I’m re-evaluating my life. Are my commitments really commitments? Are they true things that I am willing to make sacrifices for? If not, according to Margaret, they aren’t really commitments at all.