“The best thing you’ve ever done for me is to take my life less seriously,
it’s only life after all.” – Indigo Girls

 

The last time I saw my mom, dementia had progressed to the point of her not remembering minute to minute. I told her I smuggled some contraband candy into the nursing home for her. Her eyes lit up and she inquired “what kind of candy?’ I told her both Peppermint Bark and Candy Corn (two of her favorites). She pointed to the Peppermint Bark and asked to try it. “Wow, that was good.” Then she asked, “What’s in the other bag?” I gave her a few Candy Corns and she smiled and then asked, “Well, what’s in the other bag?” (Indicating the Peppermint Bark.) We continued this pattern until both bags were significantly lighter. As I prepared to leave, she grinned and said, “Next time you come to visit, why don’t you smuggle in some contraband whiskey?” She died unexpectedly 2 weeks later.

About a month after her death, I was sorting through the mail. I had received two envelopes. One envelope was her burial notification and the other from a pest control company. I opened what I thought was the burial notification and the letterhead read “HIRED KILLERS” and an invoiced amount of $1.175.00. My mind raced to the thought “WTF, someone was hired to KILL MY MOM and they are charging me for it?” Until I asked myself, “what’s in the other envelope?” I’d forgotten that the name of the pest control company was “Hired Killers.” No doubt, this was my mom’s uncanny “gotcha” for not smuggling in the contraband whiskey.

My mind loves to find meaning and purpose in sucky life experiences. When my brain ”goes down that road” it’s a signal to me that I am processing through a difficult situation. Here’s what I learned about living as a result of my mom’s death.

1. Stay curious. It’s a fine line that separates fear from curiosity. Curiosity allows us to stay open to new experiences and a look at ourselves, life and others from a perspective of willingness and at times, wonder.
2. Celebrate the AND. We frequently see choices as either/or, which limits our thinking and thus our possibilities. Sometimes we can have Peppermint bark AND Candy Corn.
3. Live your values. Find what is deep down dirty, fundamentally, soulfully important to you. Takes small steps to live true or truer to these values, every day.
4. Appreciate the absurd. The Universe has a wicked good way of using humor to guide us in our journey if we take the time to notice.
5. Get the “f” over yourself. Really, the stuff you freak about doesn’t last. In fact, nothing lasts, including us. It’s only life after all.