An interesting thing has happened as my mother lies dying.
I no longer see her annoying habits, her prejudices, her raging insecurities. All those mother-daughter things that used to fry me and send me into loops of imagined confrontations have disappeared. Instead, I see a frail woman who is afraid of her future, still willing to fight for whatever morsels of dignity she has left in the face of the enormous medical machine.
The Urantia Book talks about things of survival value verses things that are strictly material. The book says that when we leave this world and regain consciousness on the next, all things of survival value remain with us, while those things of a material nature are left behind. I believe that to mean that all material things like anger and pettiness and jealousy don’t carry forward in our memories, but that all our relationships, friendships and loves do. What a pleasant thought.
What is unexpected today is that this is precisely what is happening right now between Mom and me. Well it’s happening to me, anyway. I can remember, of course, all the times we butted heads and I went into a frustrated rage over her behavior, but they’re so far in the past at the moment (even though there were incidents mere days ago) that I have to really work to conjure them up. Instead, I have realized a depth of compassion for her that I would have never imagined, given our history.
I remember hearing a story about Ram Dass (forgive me if this is complete fiction, but the point is still well made) cancelling a book tour to tend to his dying father. He resented the interruption in his professional life (so the story goes), but the three months or so he spent ministering to his father were the most profound and important three months of his life.
I heard that story and didn’t believe it. Couldn’t imagine it.
But now, I get it.
Very interesting, this life.