I am grateful for many things, and topping the list is my relationship with my mother, cultivated primarily through lengthy telephone conversations.
During earlier times, our conversations centered on mundane and ultimately unimportant everyday details. Now, with my health challenges but one of many family struggles vying for her attention, our phone conversations have evolved with a richness of unexpected holiness.
I do not use the word “holy” lightly. I can think of no more appropriate approbation to characterize this mutually honored exchange. We talk only of vital life topics that make current events in this world seem hopelessly quaint, dull even. And we laugh at everything.
These are not maudlin discussions of death’s circling proximity. My mother, who is 88, has cancer and a robustly authentic sense of humor. She also walks three to four miles daily, finishes the NY Times crossword puzzle every day, and lives by herself in a house with a second-floor bedroom on the East Coast, far away from where we can render assistance, especially as travel becomes more problematic for me.
What is our shared response to this predicament? We joke about the other copping out by dying first. And we laugh, not the fear-tinged bravado of a false, void-filling chatter, but with the beautiful conundrum of the intrinsic humor of accepted circumstance. I always feel better after speaking with her, not due to concrete advice or singular insight, but because of the sacred sharing of unspoken secrets of the soul.
As life becomes more difficult for each of us, as trials painfully pure in grace join our ever-growing mountain of personal disarray, our humor grows more pointed, our topics more gorgeously esoteric in genuine blessing.
She is a brave companion in comedy. I am incredibly fortunate to have mom share life’s final secrets with me, even from 3,000 miles away—well, especially from 3,000 miles away. Heh, heh…