One of the benefits of sporting a roadmap of wrinkles, carting around a bone bag of stiff joints, and having a fond memory of a thick head of hair, is knowing that along the way I may have grown a brain—and a more empathetic brain at that. And while the physical features and physiologies of youth are nice, I’ve come to believe it’s the awareness of the soul, the kindness, the selfless deed, and generous nature that will in the end keep me (keep us) young. My body may go south, but the heart and head can still hasten me forward (as long as I remember where I put my truck keys and how to shift the gears).
This past year has been especially illuminating and also challenging. I’m aging, my siblings are aging, my mom is aging. And though life goes on, the gentle and not-so-gentle reminders of mortality become more prescient each year.
This year my mother sustained a fall, and through sheer pluck and hard work, she has made remarkable strides toward her recovery and well-being. It has not been easy. But we have to laugh, for when we tell her she’s amazing, she grows quiet and moves onto the next subject as if never hearing a word we’ve said. While my mom is not one to talk about herself nor does she wish to be fussed over, I am especially grateful for two things: her spirit and the devotion of her friends and neighbors.
I live a coast away, and knowing that an angel brigade helps my mom is a comforting balm for the soul. I’ve been to see her and have another trip planned, but because my siblings and I can’t be there all the time, the people who are there readily in her daily life are the true unsung heroes of my heart. They say it’s nothing and that they’re happy to do it, but I’m here to tell you it’s very much something.
I’d like to thank (and give a big written-word hug to) the everyday heroes who help, who check in, who show up when a friend is in need, especially when lack of mobility or access apply. The ride to the doctor’s appointment or church, the picking up of groceries, and the visitations are indeed heroic actions that elevate and comfort the treasured souls in our lives. Selfless actions may go unmentioned, but their uplifting, life-affirming impact speaks volumes. May my gratitude always be evident and forthcoming for you everyday heroes, bettering lives you likely have no idea you’re touching, and always in a meaningful, generous, profound and quiet way.
Beautifully written, Tom. It is so obvious that you are your mother’s son. Blessings to her and wishing her good health.
Thank you Susan, and what a lovely compliment.
You are a shining beacon in this rough-and-tumble world, Tom.
I hope your mom will read your words, too, and that they’ll fill her heart with comfort, serenity and the joy of having you as a son. Best wishes for the coming travel & visit with your sweetie-pie mom.
Well wishes from Ireland from such a lovely friend are a wonderful thing to read. Thank you Susan.
Thanks for reminding us of the importance of taking the time to help others in their time of need. Together we can make a difference. And yes, your mom is one amazing person – something I’ve been blessed to experience first hand (and I’m not just talking about delicious oatmeal raisin cookies)! Give her my best and let her know she’s in my thoughts and prayers. Warmest regards to you and your family…
Randy, my mom would have adopted you in a second. She asks about you regularly. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t check in with you enough. Take care my friend, and thanks for the well wishes; I’ll pass them along.
I love you
Thank you Lisa, it doesn’t get any better than that. I’m honored. Oh, but Buddy wants to know if you love him, too? 😉
I love him BIG- I’ve never spent time with a grown up bulldogge—- but I would cook breakfast to order for Buddy and love doing so—-
Buddy said you had him at “breakfast.” 😉
Beautiful words written to so many dear ones that care for your Mom. She must be a treasure and a gem. Enjoy all the family moments and love.
Thank you Kristy, means a lot to me.
I officially love you, Tom Conway.
Right back at you sister! Another reason to love John Snyder; he introduce us. Hope all is well for you in the Rose City.
What wonderful, touching words, Tom. Beautifully expressed and, while inspired by your Mom’s situation, they apply to everyone in the world. We are here on earth to look after each other and we’d better not forget it. Your words tweaked my conscience – I need to call a friend to see if she’s started her radiation therapy. If she has, we’ve decided that I’ll go and read to her. I have another friend who is turning 103 at the end of the month. Think I’ll buy her a whole slew of shrimps – she loves them! And thanks a million for the wake-up call. You’re truly a lovely man!
Sandra, I’m picturing you reading to your friend and also the joy of another friend being surprised by food she loves. And shrimp certainly would fall into that category. You’ve got your fried shrimp, your cocktail shrimp, your stuffed shrimp… 😉 Oops, went all Forrest Gump there. Thanks for your kind words, and especially your kind actions.
Oh Tom, thank you. Your post is timely in so many ways. Sharing those feelings of aging and coming to terms with it. It can be brutal at times but wonderful at others. Three weeks ago I took a hard fall and shattered my shoulder. At 62 it has been interesting to not be able to do anything. I can’t garden, cook, bathe, dress, look after my pets, anything really. I need people for everything. My heart goes out to your mom. I think I know what she is going through.
Oh Erin, may your recovery be quick and without complications. That falling down thing is such a debilitating event. I now stay off ladders; I’ve had a couple close calls. Thanks for your kind words and here’s to your helpers and heroes and their presence in your life.
Thank you, as always, for your wonderful words, Tom! We’re blessed to live on the same island as you.
Thank you Emily, and I could say the same wonderful thing about you and Michael.
Thank you, Tom, for this lovely, heartfelt post. It resonates with me on many levels. You, too, contribute so much to the well being of others; and I’m not just talking about pie! Your optimism and good humor reach far and wide. Blessing to you and your dear Mom on this day and in the days ahead.
Thank you Pam, I really appreciate you kind, supportive words.
What a wonderful son and such a thoughtful and caring person you are. I wish I would have known you years ago in my youth, I’m 55 now, for I think I would have been a better daughter, best friend and employee. To my credit though, my mom says that I am the daughter she has always prayed for, my best friend and I could not be any closer and I am proud to say that I have been at the same job for 14 years. I just think that with your influence, I could have gotten to this point a lot quicker! I don’t know you but I feel like I do and that is why I feel that I can say with confidence, You are an awesome, awesome person! Thank you for spreading much needed good, kindness and love into this world. Dozy Cryer
Thank you so much Dozy, your kind words have kick started my day quite nicely. At 55, I’d say you’re enjoying a good life brought on by how and what you’ve learned along the way. I always have something to learn, it just takes me days, sometimes weeks, and even years to recognize it. 😉 Well wishes to you and your mom.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about both aging and the importance of what you call ‘everyday heroes’. The fact is, we are all in this together, here on Planet Earth, and when we forget that, we find ourselves in a right old mess, whether as a family, a political entity or a species. It is so easy to go along in life, doing the everyday things, smiling at people in the street (or not), as full-time distractions from the inner human connectivity that surrounds us all, in every moment. A fall, a bicycle crash, a scary medical diagnosis or sudden death serve to shake us out of the hypnotic trance and force a new focus. So important to be reminded that we all are mortal (and for those of looking scary age numbers right in the face, it’s a daily occurrence!). But more lovely is the simple stepping forward without the catalyst of need, by friends, families and total strangers, with a hand, a supportive arm, a hot casserole, a bit of snow shoveling or lawn mowing, as pure neighborly heart. Nice to hear that such folks abound all across the land, when one’s loved ones are far away. Lovely post, Tom.
Kathy, what a lovely perspective. I love your line “without the catalyst of need.” Yes that really is the gold standard of community, friendship and being a good neighbor. Thanks for reminding me that helping anytime, without a reason or catalyst of need is the best of human nature. Thank you.
OMG I needed this today! Thanks, Tom (as always!!!)
Thank you Karen, hope you had a great day.