Southern women are born with it. We feel responsible for everyone. For everything. Maybe all women feel this way to an extent, especially mothers, daughters, wives.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday. My 82-year-old mother has Alzheimer’s and is confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home 200 miles away. The home is having a Mother’s Day Tea Sunday afternoon. But I was planning on visiting Mom on Tuesday. It just fits better with my schedule. And she won’t really know what Mother’s Day is anyway. And there will be refreshments and lots of children at the nursing home on Sunday to brighten her day, so really it’s better than I’m going on Tuesday when things are quieter and she’ll appreciate my visit more. I’ve mailed her a card and bought her a new blouse, which I’ll take to her on Tuesday, along with some cookies from McAllister’s Deli. So why do I still feel guilty for not visiting her ON Mother’s Day? Why have I felt, my entire life, that nothing I do is enough?
And now the city of Nashville is flooded (as well as parts of Memphis) and people are suffering immeasurably and what am I doing about it? Okay, we’ve contributed some money, but I’m not out there volunteering my time to help. Instead, I’m here, comfortable in my dry, air-conditioned home, writing, cooking steaks out (last night) and even going for a massage this afternoon. But what, really, are arthritis and fibromyalgia compared to the loss of homes, cars, and even lives? (By the way, this tragedy has been unjustly ignored by the media. Here’s a good video that shows more of the story.)
Next Friday we’re going to Knoxville for our daughter’s graduation (Master’s of Architecture) at UT, and then we’re taking family and friends to Seagrove Beach, Florida, to celebrate for a week. My mind is concerned with the safety of the interstate at we travel around Nashville en route to Knoxville, and about the quality of the water at the beach following the oil spill. Will there still be an abundance of fresh seafood? And again, I feel guilty for even having these concerns in light of the tragic impact of the flooding and the oil spill on the lives of so many. We’re looking forward to having our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter fly over from Denver to join us, as well as our future son-in-law and our daughter’s two best friends from college. It will be a special, important time for our family. And yet, I keep thinking about how the money could have been spent to help the flood victims. I remind myself that Jesus said, “the poor you always have with you, but me you do not always have.” A difficult passage.
I remember back in September of 1998, when my 20-year-old Goddaughter, Mary Allison, was killed by a drunk driver, one week before one of her dear friends was to be married. Mindy, the bride-to-be, (and a sweet Southern woman) talked about how guilty she felt, celebrating her wedding day while everyone was grieving Mary Allison’s death. But isn’t life like that? Won’t there always be tragedy and joy, juxtaposed against each other throughout our lives?
How are you spending Mother’s Day weekend? Are you volunteering your time to help the flood victims, like these friends of Kathy Rhodes, my writer-friend in Franklin? Are you sacrificing money you’d like to have spent on pleasure, or choosing to celebrate your children’s graduations, weddings, births, and other joyous milestones of life this weekend?
Are you visiting your mother, or sending her a card or taking time to call her on the phone? May we all find peace in knowing that we are doing what we can, and no, it’s never “enough,” but it is what it is. And life goes on. So, Happy (Guilt-Free?) Mother's Day to all mothers, and congratulations to the graduates and brides and grooms, like Caitlyn and Brandon Maas (in the photo) who are honeymooning in Savannah! Many Years!