When my mom was 62 or so, she lost her factory job and had to go on welfare. From 62 to 65, until her pension kicked in, she was relatively sober. Dirt poor, but sober. I took care of her then. She wouldn't take my money outright, so she was my "housekeeper". And when that wasn't enough - because welfare just isn't enough for anyone, I would take her grocery shopping and whatever. Those were my favourite years I'm sorry to say. My mother's poverty was the one key to her sobriety. When her pension kicked in at 65 I lost her, good and hard. She died two years later.
I have thought a lot about my mother this past weekend. I remember those times, my balloon full, including her in some family shindig. The anxiety surely too much for her, me oblivious. Like when we went to my sister's. Me thinking what an awesome outing this will be, what a spectacular family get together this will be (yes, I really thought that) - and it was awful, horrible, scary as hell - all to me - something I wouldn't wish on anyone. I had been fooled. I had hoped. It begins lovely enough - we're all in the car chatting merrily. Can we stop for lunch? Sure - a beer please. My anxiety begins... by the time it's evening my anxiety is cranked up to high, the sobriety has disappeared like the morning dew. I'm scared. It's how it is. Again, and again.
So what's my lesson? Appreciate the growth that is there? To be sure. Stop hoping? I don't think I can. Focus my energy on what is in fact working? Yes. Keep loving? Of course, it's not an option. I hate addiction.
I can't let it go at that. Because some amazing stuff comes from all this. Not before seen pride in a job well done. The beauty of the connection when it's real and authentic. I'm very grateful for that, I am. Cooking with Grandson Number One, playing with him, watching his eyes sparkle as he rides a plane, holds on to Honey's hand, tells us a story. A note at the end saying we can do better together. The pride in taking care, in standing tall, in doing better. It's all there. Whatever it is we are longing for, it's really all there.