Monday, October 24, 2011
A Broken Promise
It’s been awhile since I’ve felt up to writing anything as I’ve been mired in a situation that so many others have found themselves. The situation of an elderly parent that has just been diagnosed with cancer and what it means to the remainder of their life. How this still terrifying news will affect my mom and the relationships that remain in her life is still unclear. I pray for her recovery but fear that she doesn’t much care how things turn out as she longs for the day she meets her Maker. Additionally, I find myself questioning my motivations for her recovery as being little more than selfish on so many different levels – all of which I will keep as personal at this time.
My mom and I have stood on opposite sides of the political divide for some time now. A split that threatened to end an already tested relationship due to the trials of growing up in a single parent home in the 70’s and my move across country more than 20 years ago. A bond between a mother and son that should never be broken but has nevertheless sustained some moderation in the recent past.
I was really surprised when she started to include her political commentary that was so contrary to what I thought was a shared belief – after all she did have a big hand in my development. We chose to work out our differences by focusing on the non-political aspects of our shared lives. Telephone calls that where once dominated by me touting a liberal/progressive viewpoint became more about how she was feeling and any news she thought I should hear about the lives being carved out by my brothers and sisters.
As I learned more about our divergent beliefs the less care I took with maintaining my relationship with mom. I was no longer a teenager being scolded over a curfew infringement or a profane sense of humor; I was a grown man with a family, responsibilities and a growing sense of my own self-importance. I stopped making as many calls as infrequent as they were, justifying my inaction by thinking that the phone lines worked both ways thereby making her an accomplice in the wreckage of our bond. A weakness I regret but I had been setting up for too many years.
Just a few days ago I was stunned as our political truce seemed to come to a sudden end when mom told me she was afraid that recovery wasn’t possible and it was going to be due to Obama-care. I truly had not seen this coming and found myself looking for the words that I could share to dissuade her from these fears. Of course I could spend the rest of this post knocking down all the reasons that this fear is totally unfounded but I will close with the following thoughts about my mother.
She has led a life in service to others and her children. She was brought up at times by her mother and other times in a Catholic orphanage. When it was time to leave the orphanage she tried life as a Catholic nun. After leaving the convent she worked with kids and found herself drawn to a scrappy, recently discharged sailor. They soon started their family – 5 kids – before he died and left her to raise that family. She did not remarry or date until she was in her 70’s. She watched as her oldest daughter was left for dead in the street after a hit and run driver on Mothers Day– thankfully my sister is still with us but has lived with mom ever since. She has quietly supported each of her children as we traveled on our paths to the lives we have today. She has had good times but many more trying times – I am thankful for the way she shepherded me through my much less trying times.
My mother, whatever her secret desire is about her prognosis, doesn’t deserve a moment’s unrest about what Health Care Reform means to her future. This worry about the fictional death panels or the rationing of care is the fault of people that would prop up the current for profit model of health care over a more humane system of health care delivery. The likes of just about any Republican with (or without) a microphone and Tea Partiers that have linked patriotism with unfettered capitalism – all of whom have an aversion to progress and a love for the immoral status quo. They have now set the stage for additional stress with which any person facing a severe health issue needs not to deal.
Sorry mom, I just had to get political one last time and I hope I get to keep my promise not to let politics enter our relationship for many more years. I love you.