Practice the pause

Practice-the-pause.-640x640

Sunday will be my father’s birthday. He would have been 76 years old. Sunday is also the day we moved into our newest home, one year ago. I feel like that was a sign. Dad always wanted us to move into a smaller home and take care of ourselves first. He said we were always taking care of other people kids. He called my house “Sunshine Rehab”. When he was in the hospital, I texted him a picture of his new bed all set up in the living room of my old house. The house was very large with 5 bedrooms and 3 ½ bathrooms. The living room had no other furniture in it other than Dad’s bed and anything else he needed. I used a folding wall to give him privacy. We wanted him close to our everyday activities so he could see what was happening around him. Not in a room with a window facing the alley or a neighbor’s house.

My biggest regret when it comes to my father was talking to him like he didn’t know anything. With the tone of a snotty teenager that thinks they know it all. As he aged he asked questions I deemed as stupid or uneducated because I knew the answers. I was impatience and judgmental. Why I thought I knew more than a man that lived more than twice my life span is beyond me.

This morning as I was cleaning up dog poop in the yard, no doubt with a puss on my face, I was listening to my neighbor’s 40 something year old son talk to her like she didn’t know anything. He was explaining things like she should already know. He was aggravated and snappy. A familiar sound since I talked to my father that way many times. As we age it’s hard to be patience with the elderly, until they are dying. My neighbor wanted her son to fix something mechanical. He was mad that he didn’t understand what she wanted and snapped, “I’m not a mechanic”. This woman is in her late 60’s early 70’s, came from Poland by herself with one child, started a family here in America working several jobs. She tells me stories how she did everything because her husband was not good at things or just wouldn’t do it, like mowing the lawn or fixing the car. She dropped the kids to sitters so she could work a 12 hour shift to help put food on the table. She loved her children and always made sure they had what they needed. One child lives next door to her now, which is the son that was talking to her this morning, the other son lives with her after his divorce. Her advice to me often in the last year is, “Don’t start doing things, then he will stop doing them because he knows you can. Let him mow the lawn it will keep him busy.” She would always add “trust me”, with a thick polish accent.

I wanted to reach over the fence and tell him to stop talking to her like that. I wanted to tell him he was going to regret it someday. One day he will hear someone else talking to their parents like that and a flashback will come in reminding him of how disrespectful he was to his mother. He will regret it and feel a sadness. He will pray his kids never treat him that way and that they respect the life he lived, for them. I know you love her. Because I have seen how you take such great care of your own kids.

While Dad was alive I wish I practiced the PAUSE more often.

Pause…Let him be right.

Pause…let him tell you what to do.

Pause…let him feel in control of his home and life.

We are teaching our children how to treat us when we are elderly.

Pause…and think about how much you love them.

Happy Birthday Dad! I hope you know how much you were appreciated and loved. Even if I was always right (wink wink). I love you every day!

Dad’s first selfie ❤ He was 72, always learning new things!

Dads first selfie

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“I’m glad I got cancer”

I rarely hear woman say “I wanna be just like my mom someday”.  We hear boys say they want to be just like their dads when they grow up, why don’t woman say it more? Such different relationships…

Today, I yelled at John. You might think I don’t yell a lot, maybe it was just today? No, I yell all the time. I think my normal talking voice in this house is yelling. I cannot have a conversation without talking over John and his technology devices going off so I scream “Turn it down” mid-sentence and keep going. Newcomers to the Murphy household are usually shell shocked and wondering how I can even have a conversation and retain anything we talked about.

Anyway, I started off talking about mothers. I spent years praying to not be anything like my mom. Now I wish I was like her. She was a mother that had a lot against her. She raised four very different kids in a mostly unhappy marriage as a stay at home mom. After her divorce she went out to work as a bartender, later getting a job with the Chicago School system doing janitorial work. Her relationships with her kids were strained because we were little assholes. Except for my older brother Teddy, he was and is non-judgmental and empathetic. I know he was towards our mother, not so much with others. Even though I believe he really is but tries to play it off like he isn’t. He is generous and is always helping people. A friend of his went to prison and Teddy was the only one who kept in touch with him, sent him gifts, money, etc.  When I asked him why he even bothered he said, “Why not, the guys got nothing else going for him”. When that friend got out of prison, less than 3 months later he died of a heart attack. I think about how that poor man died when his life was getting ready to change for the better and how grateful he was for Teddy’s correspondence all those years.

My mom was diagnosis with brain cancer when Johnny was a baby. I was devastated and so was Teddy. Even today I feel these overwhelming waves of guilt in me for the absence in my mother’s life for so many years, it was intentional absence. I was so mean and judgmental. Unfortunately, it took an illness for me to have any empathy for her at all. She had cancer for 6 years before she passed, we had an amazing 6 years filled with great memories. I would hop on a plane every 3-6 months to visit her in Ireland where she lived to spend a few weeks with her. Teddy and I would take turns going, sometimes going together. Mom told my cousin Mikey one day, “I’m happy I got cancer. I don’t think I would have known how much everyone loves me”.

When he told me that my heart was broken for all the lost years. All the years she wanted to talk to me and I wouldn’t. All the years I didn’t even know why I was mad at her other than other family member’s influences. That day I vowed to live a life where there was no question about love. People I love know I love them because I tell them when I see them. Even if they think it’s strange, I say it. Last weekend, we went to John’s ECMO reunion to celebrate his survival. We have kept in touch with all those folks for over 12yrs. Danny, the ECMO specialist that cared for John, is a friend we see rarely but still considered a friend because of his role in our lives. As I was leaving I told Danny “I love you, see you next year”. He said he loves me back, but I didn’t’ expect that. I truly love him for his role in my son’s life, his survival.

When the feeling rises, I say it. On the other hand, people I dislike usually know it, too. Not because I tell them. Because I create boundary’s that keep them at a distance. For example, my sister and I haven’t seen or talked to each other since Dad died. I do not like her, how she treats her family or how she treats other people. I don’t want to judge her, condemn her or save her, so I create the boundaries. Some people need to save themselves and my role in their life may be only to watch me from afar or not.

I remember mom yelling at us when we were kids. Once she chased me around the front room with a broom and almost made contact. I probably said something disrespectful.

I hate that I yell at John. Sometimes I can’t help it. I always apologize to him without the “but”. I remind myself that I am teaching him how to be treated. We make mistakes, we make amends, we forgive, we pray and we live in gratitude. Thank God for the ability to take time outs, restart our day and thank god for LOVE!

At the end of the night he has never turned away a hug or kiss, for that I am grateful. At the end of the night he knows I love him!