My mother is a very inspiring woman. She finds the capacity for empathy, and even sympathy, when everyone else has long-since abandoned ship on an individual’s earnest attempts to stop sinking. She manages to observe people so precisely, while (for the most part) maintaining faith in their basic good-intentions – modelling how I would like view of the world. She is a medical doctor by training, and a healer/nurturer by nature. But since I was about 12 years old, or so, she has battled a chronic illness, called Sjögren’s Syndrome, which includes symptoms such as chronic fatigue, arthritis and dry eyes, nose and mouth.
My mother needs intellectual stimulation. More than that, she thrives on social stimulation. Patients, friends, family, pets – creatures of any kind – present her with more than just someone to talk to or take care of: they are living beings who, like flowers in a garden, can be observed, watered, pruned and delighted in as they blossom. Taking care of someone is an occupation to my mother, but it is also more than that – it is a genuine thrill for her to be able to see them grow. However, due to her illness, for the last ten years or more my mother has not been able to work more than two half days a week. She needs to rest every afternoon, not just to let her creaking arthritic joints relax, but to allow her dry eyes to close and fatigued body to be still. For the last ten years I have heard her say how much she loves to work, but that after half a day of it she needs a day and a half to recover.
About a year ago Mum started getting into yoga, either because she was introduced to it through me or just because it was the right moment in her life. She started to tell me that it was ‘unlocking her creativity’. We began to notice that her art, for which she had been attending classes for over five years, suddenly became much more expressive and confident. A trip my Dad, brother and I took, which would normally leave Mum feeling lonely and depressed, unleashed the socialite in her – taking her to dinners with friends, plays, the opera, art exhibitions – with hardly a night at home in-between. Now she has started four half days of work a week and lined up a fifth – with none of the old plagues of exhaustion or chronic pain following her – her biggest worry is figuring out if she can move her dance class to Saturdays.
I would literally have not imagined this possible a year ago. I will not make any guaranteed claims that it is the yoga, or the acupuncture Mum has been doing every fortnight or month over the same period of time – but there have been no other significant changes in her life, and if nothing else, she is needing less pain medication than she was before the yoga and acupuncture. Whatever has changed – the results are certainly remarkable, and I would like to take this opportunity to say, from me, Dad, Dave, Brendan and all the animals – WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU MUM!!!
The message to carry away from my Mum’s experience is that you never, never know what your future holds. As George Elliot said; ‘It’s never too late to be who you might have been.’ Or, as I prefer to think of it, ‘it’s never too late to be whoever you might like to be.’
With lots and lots of love to my beautiful mama 🙂 xoxo