By Charlie Hodge.
It’s appropriate, I suppose, that my birthday and Mothers’ Day should be less than a week apart. I make no bones about the fact I was always a Mommy’s boy. Still am.
No one in my world ever came close to attaining the same level of hero status as dear old Mom. Regular readers of HodgePodge have heard to the point of nausea my many Mom memories – yet in fairness she deserves every accolade. Raising three unique kids in a rocky relationship – including one as chaotic as I – was no easy task.
I, on the other hand, did nothing but benefit from having such a remarkable nurturer and friend as my guardian and guiding light. In her worst of times (of which I honestly cannot recall any) she was still gentle, kind, wise and witty. In fact I cannot actually recall one time in my life that Mom either yelled at me in anger or spoke down to me in a cutting, critical way. (I suppose the fact that Dad did so on a regular basis may have eased Mom’s need to).
My mother had the ability to teach lessons, admonish, demand change, hold accountable, insist on improvement, or raise expectations without threats or fear mongering. While using shades of guilt was a tool she would occasionally utilize – those incidents were rare and I almost always left a disciplinary discussion feeling inspired and motivated. Truly a gifted mentor. She was an old soul before her birthday numbers matched that of old age.
My mom died a week or so short of 75 from Emphysema complications. I still miss her dearly.
On Monday I turned 64. I admit of late to feeling a tad old – physically and somewhat emotionally. While life has been marvelous – I cannot purport to being wise like mom. However I am thankful.
In the back of my brain I accepted this ‘aha’ moment would eventually arrive – I was just not ready for ‘it’ to hit so soon. I am old, if not before my time then certainly within my time, and the proof is all around me.
There is nothing overly profound with discovering we have suddenly become old. It happens to all of us should we live long enough. In some cases we become old without living all that long. That’s precisely how I feel today.
Within the next week or two I must decide whether I want to take a chance and register for a double lung transplant. My Emphysema has reached critical mass and a decision must be made.
In hindsight the need for this decision has been creeping in subtly the past few years, the same way dirt finds its way under a fingernail. The full-in-my-face realization, however, rapidly festered to a bursting point following a video conference last week with the transplant clinic.
Ironically that meeting made me grin in recognition of how marvelous my life has been and how indeed I have seen much in my few years around the sun. I sat in a room at a computer and talked with a team of experts hundreds of miles away using technology that never existed when I was born.
I realized how over the years I have learned to adapt and stickhandle my way through all sorts of change in life, not just in medical technology but also in my work and play. I began writing for a living on a typewriter, listened to my music on a turntable, and played games on a board not a laptop.
However, when it came to gut-check time; to figuring out what I am going to decide with my compromised life choices regarding a transplant – I abandoned all the modern forms of technical assistance. I sought my source of solemn decision making in a familiar way.
Mom taught me early in life that when the heart and head need healing there is no better place to, “settle in to settle down” then a garden. A great amount of our amazing discussions or debates over the years took place on our hands and knees in the dirt either planting or weeding or watering. I learned early the healing, calming solace that mother nature can provide.
So, once again after so many years I am reminded of the close parallels of my birthday and Mother’s day. Just as soon as this column hits the ethereal on route to the newspaper office I will drag my lazy lungs and body out to a certain plot of raised garden bed that needs planting.
While I’m out there digging and day dreaming and seeking some answers I will likely think often of Mom – and grin.
All of my answers are in the dirt.