MOC, Contributor to Moving, for You: A Tribute to Empathy
When my father died, abruptly, in his early fifties, I sprung to action to help my mom. I visited her as much as life would allow, and never let a holiday go by without flowers, or a spa treatment, or a special home-cooked meal for her. But that didn't seem to be enough.
So I painted a picture of her with my dad's face beaming from her heart, spreading light through her hands, encouraging her to use the life he had left inside of her to connect with the people around her. And I gave it to her on their wedding anniversary. But that wasn't enough either.
So I assisted her in seeking representation for a medical malpractice lawsuit to right my dad's wrongful death, which she won. But the financial compensation wasn't enough to bring my dad back to life, or her.
At her 60th birthday party—which I organized in a big ballroom with dinner, dancing, cake, and nearly all of her family and friends—she said that it felt like being at her own wake. And so I stopped trying so hard.
But when my brothers called me, abruptly, several years later, to explain that Mom was overmedicated, and spending too much money, and being taken advantage of by contractors, I sprung to action to help. I organized an intervention with all of her nearest and dearest people. But she felt "attacked." So I stopped trying so hard.
But when my younger brother called me to tell me that things were "getting worse," I called Adult Protective Services, and typed up a timeline of events so that other people could see what had been happening and be better equipped to help her. But she felt attacked. So I stopped trying so hard.
But when her friends called me to tell me that she was missing doctor's appointments and getting screamed at and coerced by one of my brothers about her finances, I wrote a group email to the family, explaining that we need to work together to help Mom, and be transparent with one another about the conversations we have with her as she is in a fragile state. But she AND my brother felt attacked. By me.
"HE is the real problem here," she told one of her friends. Meaning me.
"You're perverse," said another of my brothers to me—not the one who screamed at Mom, as he had refused to speak to me by then. No, the one who called me "perverse?"...I had just warmed up his new house by helping him host a big Christmas there. He too felt attacked.
And so I stopped trying so hard. This time for good.
It sounds so easy when I put it like that. But it's not.
Calligraphy by Amorosa5