26 Oct 2013 by Patience Chen-
My mother was involved in a bad hit and run accident a few days ago. She came back, bloody-faced and dripping crimson droplets all over the driveway, porch and dining area, trying to clean herself up.
At 5 A.M. At the kitchen sink.
Three topics have always been of great interest to me: Life, Death and Time. Since the accident, I have had yet another opportunity to reflect on these three things. One never fully appreciates life until death is close at hand, causing one to wonder, “Have I spent my time wisely?” And perhaps more pointedly (for me), “Have I spent my time with my aging parents wisely?”
It is unsurprising that parents are given plenty of tips in how to lead by example, how to ensure that we give the best to our children. But little is said for how children can be a blessing to the ones we have always received from.
I am single and childless. So please note that these factors will characterize my suggestions as I believe that I can only share and advise based on my own experience.
Let’s start with the easy stuff.
1. Listen to their stories
As I grow up, and my parents grow older, I find myself getting more and more impatient with them. I suppose, just as we love our parents listening to our 'extremely important' news of the day when we were little, perhaps taking an extra 15 minutes to hear about their walk in the park, or the friends they bumped into at the coffee shop can be a blessing to them. It is not about the story, but in recognizing (for ourselves) the importance of our parents to us, and then letting them know that they are important to us.
2. Ask them for advice
I have often found my father to be a wise man. It was because I intentionally carved out time for 'dates' with him and taking him to exercise in the park together, that I was able to glean that wisdom from him. These are moments which I will treasure long after he is gone. I have asked my father what sort of man I should marry. What are some things he wished he had done differently as a parent? I pay attention to the books he read and I’ve disagreed with him on various topics. I would like to believe that while he may not enjoy the disagreements, he is encouraged that his adult daughter respects him enough to consult him anyway.
3. Invest in your own emotional health.
Perhaps this suggestion is 'heavier' and needs a bit more background.
My mother is a compulsive hoarder. I have grown up blaming my mother as if she could 'do something about it.' No doubt, we lived in terrible conditions. Our house was a constant fire hazard, with little space to move about. For years, I have denied that this has had a profound effect on me as an individual. After all, I wasn’t the one with the problem.
But then, the Bible is quick to admonish me. “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:3 – 5). I cannot look at the issue clearly, if my heart and mind are clouded by judgment.
There came a day that I realized my mother would die, and if I did not deal with my disappointment and grief, I would also have to live with regret; regret for not accepting my mother, and not being able to express my love to her while I can. So I started going for counseling biweekly. I realize that my mother won’t change. She cannot. So I must change myself. I owe it to myself and to my loved ones to take care of my own emotional and psychological well being.
Of course there are inexhaustible ways to be a blessing to our parents. Only you know your family situation and what will or will not work. But for those who have never considered it before, or have no idea how to go about it, I hope that this article will serve as a good start.
Take some time in the next week just to ask your parents how their day or week has been. Repeat or paraphrase what they have said so that they know that you are listening to them. Ask them for a piece of advice and write it down or post it on your Facebook. You may be surprised at the truths that they have learnt and how useful it can be for you.
Disclaimer: I have gotten permission from my family to publish this article. The only request my mother made was to let it be known that my father has thrown away four lorry-loads worth of her 'antiques' without her knowledge (I am not sure if that is helping her case). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, "Mom, even though I often don’t understand your behaviour, I have never wished for anyone else to be my mother. You are the best one for me. I love you."
Note: Patience can often be found with a tune in her head, a melody in her heart, a song on her lips, and a dance in her step. She loves to connect with people, so please do contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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