It was almost twenty years ago that Mom & I paired up to give her access to a hot issue discussion happening ONLINE. Computer clueless Mom wanted to be involved. Enter, her baby girl – me! Hey, this was the woman who not only gave birth to me, but was still, easing her way towards ninty, the one I could call after a particularly grueling day & beg to start supper. I owed her!
So, we paired up – I surfed heraround the three e-mail discussions (pre bogging days), printed out posts for her perusal, then transcribed her dictated replies comments questions back to the group.
Facilitating her being part of a worldwide discussion in which I wasn’t all that invested is typical of what John & I did ever since our fathers died, each in their early 60s: remove obstacles that blocked our mothers’ paths to being their most Kay & Marie self.
Did Mom have an inkling that our pairing was actually part of my training, that what I helped her do would become Cyber Access For The Technically Timid, spinning socializing into social networking, letting others do what she initiated – – accessing the Internet without touching a keyboard?
It certainly NEVER occurred to me! Turns out we never KNOW when an older elder even ancient might blossom into something unexpected & fabulous – I can guarantee that Mom, even at 88, NEVER imagined her 91-year old self responding to e-mails from a local college’s Psych 101 students – – while she was in hospice!
Ditto we don’t know what things we do with our olders might turn into our greatest blessings.
The important thing about pairing with Mom was that I was present in her life, focused on her having a way to a) hear her own voice, b) give it the value it deserved, and c) find the confidence to let it be heard.
In the beginning, those were not easy steps for Mom. Although Dad had always encouraged her to know & speak her mind, his death shattered her world. Even 25 years later, knowing her mind & sharing her thoughts did not come naturally – at first. Thanks to the voices, both men & women, who cherished her often surprising points of view, who clamored for more, Mom began to believe in the Katharine Reynolds Lockhart that I’d always seen, but could never convince her existed.
Change comes from unexpected places, in unimaginable ways, to even the oldest of the old. But we have to be present, we need to be as vulnerable as they do, we have to be as willing to become something different. If you’re not there, even when it’s tough to be, it’s a non-starter. There may be times one or both wonders if it’s worth the arrggghhh & angst. Stick it out, learn from it, deepen from it.
You might find the person you paired becomes the best sort of silent partner!