What is really going on here?

My mother asked me to paint a wall for her recently. She could have easily hired someone to do this but much prefers to have her children around (and no matter how much we object, she always insists on paying us way more than she would have to pay someone else…for her, it is a social event). I arrived at her home at 9:30 in the morning and was finished by 4:30. She didn’t want to do the painting herself, but talked to me, non-stop, while I painted…and sang too. My mother has always had an “interesting” habit of breaking into song if a word in the conversation reminds her of some tune from the past.

About an hour into my painting, I was feeling a little bit irritated by her constant chatter and was, at that point, on top of her 8 foot ladder, doing a peak when she said, “Do you want me to stand behind you?”, I said no, and she started singing, “…stand beside you and guide you though the night with the light from above. Through the meadows, through the prairies….” I just started laughing and said, “Mom, it is a really bad idea to sing like that when I am on the top of a ladder.” She started cracking up too. She hadn’t even realized that she was doing it.

From that moment on, something changed and I just entered into the spirit of it. It became like a game, fun and creative, and we had a wonderful day. I opened my emails when I arrived back home and there was this funny, sweet video of a mourning dove and a cat (thank you Carol for sending it) that made me laugh, think of my mother and myself and how much fun life can be when I change my perspective.

It’s the game of life. Do I win or do I lose? One day they’re gonna shut the game down. I gotta have as much fun and go around the board as many times as I can before it’s my turn to leave.”  Tupac Shakur

The link to it is below.

17 thoughts on “What is really going on here?”

  1. Were our Moms twins separated at birth? While my Mom sings, she prefers to whistle…at times it hits me like fingernails scratching down a chalk board. Next time this happens, Mary, I will think of you and your Mom and enjoy the moment. In another week she will be 83, it’s time I cut her some slack…
    Love and hugs to you, enjoy your day…Marian

  2. My mom did both — fragments of song phrases at odd times, and the most powerful, consistent whistling of songs I’ve ever heard. I inherited her tendency to sing at strange moments, but not her whistling ability. Both could irritate me at times – especially when I was a teenager and thought I knew everything — but I’d give anything to hear them again. She died in 2007.

  3. Mary, I have a very big smile on my face after reading your overnight posting. How wonderful. What I have taken for it is the breaking down of barriers. You could have chosen to be grumpy with your mother and instead, you were able to cross over to who she is and join her. It was, to me, like an emotional holding of hands in your relationship. Your mother sounds like a real character.

    Real characters, to me, are usually strong characters. I wonder that children growing up under strong personalityed parents might not have difficulty in finding a sense of themselves in the relationship. I grew up with a mother who was a strong personality but who would argue black is white just to make her point and nearly drove everyone around her to distraction trying to deal with her. In the end, I found the best way to deal with her was with a sense of humour and teasing her. We got along great as we both aged.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m still smiling.

    SandyP in Canada

  4. Make that ‘from it’ not for it…is there any way of correcting my spelling before it goes off into cyber space here…

  5. Meeting people where they are is hard. Daughters meeting mothers where they are is really, really hard. But so worth it. And Sandy P is right – it gets easier with age (and practice). And Charlotte is so very, very right – a mother’s death leaves a great and strange silence.

    Mary, I know you will always remember this day, with a smile and gratitude.

  6. When you wrote what your mother sang I just burst out laughing! Thanks to you and her for that. Oh to change the perspective, I’m gonna think about that.

  7. Mary, it’s so wonderful that you were able to just let go and be in the moment with your Mom. How delightful! Love the video, it sounds like the dove is laughing at how clever he is!

  8. Both my dogs went into fits of barking at the pesky little dove’s cooing! Isn’t that funny when dogs don’t know where a sound is coming from but it drives them crazy? Mary, your quotes never cease to amaze me – made me google Tupac – He has a whole site of quotations – some a lil” rough, but some heart achingly touching. To think he was only 25 when he was murdered. Another quote to muse on: “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.” Tupac Shakur

    1. I love that quote that you posted Susan….( a few people have emailed me that they were surprised that I quoted a rapper, but I sort of like the way wisdom shows up where we least expect it too)

      1. Mary, you’ve got me researching again – for anyone interested rap has a very interesting wikipedia page – “Rap etymologically means “fast read” or “spoke fast”. It may be from a shortening of repartee.” I wondered about the phrase someone getting a bad rap – and one’s “rap sheet” but actually that is just an acronym for Record of Arrest and Prosecution. A few bad apples, i.e. rappers who have done wrong, do not taint the whole barrel. I think of it in its best as a form of oral poetry set to most especially rhythm, if not also music.

  9. My mom (94 and fiercely independent) shattered her elbow in early September. Between the surgery, rehab home and now my driving her to every rehab and doc appointment, she and I have become almost attached at the ribs. I have had to develop a very forgiving sense of humor these past couple of months, but I have to say that we are having some hearty laughs at our own expense, not to mention the occasional thread of dark humor that creeps in now and then.

    It IS all in one’s perspective, and when she’s finally gone to that ‘Great Martini’ in the sky, I will miss her and will also be very grateful for the surplus of laughs that we both afforded each other….just by looking at it from the right angle.

    Thanks for the great post, Mary, and to Carol for a ‘lesson’ video.

    1. Wow Suzanne, that’s some Mom you’ve got – talk about making lemonade out of lemons. A shattered elbow (youch!) turning into many car rides and hours spent together with laughter you will never forget having shared. I chuckle at the “dark humor” at 93 – maybe that’s the secret to a long life – a sense of humor, and a good martini! Tell her she has many friends here who hope she is now fully recovered!

      1. Thank you, Susan! I’ll pass the message on to her, although I don’t think I’ll tell her of my sharing her love of martinis. She already thinks I tell too many secrets. 🙂

  10. What a wonderful mother daughter story! I laughed. I cried. I wasn’t lucky enough to have had such a relationship with my Mother.So I always love to hear such healthy tales. Thanks Mary, Cindy Chambers 🙂

    1. You took the words right out of my mouth, Cindy. I guess we’re always somewhat envious of things we didn’t have and I, too, love hearing these stories of mother/daughter relationships.

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