Monday, November 26, 2007

Do It Now

I spent much of the Thanksgiving holiday in the car this year. Wednesday before The Day, I drove to Louisiana from Houston to pick up my Mom. My brother, Mike, met me somewhere near the halfway point for the “handoff”.

A couple of weeks ago, I had taken a motorcycle ride over to visit Mom on one of those beautiful fall days that seem to come later and later here in Texas. It’s about a 6-hour ride, but, honestly, I love it. It’s great for my head, my heart and my perspective. While I was there, I asked her if she wanted to come to Houston for Thanksgiving. She hasn’t been here in a while and I thought she might like the trip and the change of scenery. I told her I’d come and get her and bring her to Houston. Her response was, “You’d do that?” At the time, it didn’t seem like that big a deal.

So Mike and I worked out the timing – we hit the rendezvous point about 5 minutes apart. I know it’s a guy thing, but after driving 3 hours or so, we both felt pretty good about pulling it off with such relative precision.

Mom is in her middle eighties and still lives alone in the house where I grew up and where we all lived as a family. Dad passed away in 1997. Right before he died, he told me “Your mother won’t make it a year after I’m gone, you know?” While things are not easy for her, she does just fine at her own pace.

Her body is weak and frail. She walks with a walker and moves very slowly. But her heart and her mind are strong. She smiled a lot all weekend despite the physical challenges and the fear that comes from being out of your comfort zone. Houston and its busyness are a far cry from small town north Louisiana.

After a good Thanksgiving Day, I was taking her back to the hotel and the sky near the Galleria area began to light up. It was the grand finale of the lighting of the Christmas Trees on Post Oak Boulevard – an annual tradition here in Houston. We were far enough away to not be cornered by the thousands of people in the heart of the action. I pulled into a parking lot and turned the car in the direction of the fireworks. She loved it – “oooo” and “ahhh” just like a little kid. More smiles and thanksgiving. Mom knows how to be thankful.

I took her back to Louisiana on Friday afternoon. That morning, we had jumped into the shopping scene for what we thought would be a quick stop to buy her some clothes. The Mall on the day after Thanksgiving – something I have taken an oath against and sworn never to do. I broke my oath this time for Mom.

She was overwhelmed by the crowds and thrilled by the excitement of Christmas shoppers and all the decorations.
The vendors that occupy the center aisles of the mall found her to be easy prey with her slow gate. But she smiled and giggled at them all with their silly wares - Not one thing she couldn’t live without, but she let them make their pitch anyhow and slowly strolled away.

For a couple of years now, I’ve been thinking I needed to drive through Louisiana, get Mom in the car and take her to Nashville to spend some time with her Great Grandchildren, Sam and Gabe. So far, it hasn’t happened and it occurred to me while making these drives over Thanksgiving, it might be too tough for her to do. I don’t think she could make the trip now. The stops, getting in and out of the car – things that most of us take for granted and do without thinking, my Mom finds difficult. Her legs are weak as are her hands and arms. Her feet don’t work so well, either. She’s a trooper, though and doesn’t like being a burden. She doesn’t mourn the fact that she can’t get around the way she used to. But I do.

I wish I had been more attentive to her waning health. I’m not going to beat myself up over this, but I would encourage you, this Christmas season, to do the things you’ve been thinking of doing and do them now! Push some other, more pedestrian things to the back burner – you know, the things that no one will remember next summer much less for a lifetime. I think my Mom will remember her trip to Houston for Thanksgiving for a long, long time. She told me she thought she’d never get over here again. So, take a deep breath, do a little planning and prioritize the things on your list. Put the life memory – type stuff at the top and those fruitcakes and toys and trinkets near the end. Remember your kids might like playing with boxes as much as playing with toys. Maybe, having some of your distant, aging loved ones around will be the stuff of lifetime memories for you and your children, too.

Stay thankful – always.



Anonymous said...

Wayne, as we all get older, so much stuff passes between us. It becomes increasingly easier to allow the busy-ness of our lives to convince us that it's not worth the trouble to spend time with our elder family members. Just too much going on.

Parents are people too. That sounds strange, but I think your feelings are well stated. They have faults, as we do. That doesn't mean they don't need friendships and prayers and polite phone calls.

I have a grandmother who is now somewhere older than 90. It embarrasses me that it has been months since I've taken the time to call her, let alone just mail her photos of her great grandchildren. I will do it today, thanks to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wayne - I was fortunate to meet your Mom for the first time in Shreveport when you did Savior 2 years ago. She was so gracious and thanked me over and over for doing the Wayne Watson Fan Page - I just told her she didn't have to thank me, that I felt your music ministry was so important and of couse, she agreed :-)

The one thing that struck me the most was her beautiful eyes and made me know why you wrote "In Those Eyes" from the New Lives for Old album - I'll never forget getting to look into her eyes.

Great blog - glad you had a good Thanksgiving.


Anonymous said...

Great post - and I so THRILLED that you 2 new albums out!

I had to laugh when I read this part of your post---"Push some other, more pedestrian things to the back burner"---when I first read through it, I thought I read--"Push more pedestirans..."! I had to laugh to myself and remind myself to "slow it down a little"! LOL

Amylisa said...

Beautiful post, Wayne. Very well said!

My Mom passed away early this year, so this will be my first Christmas without her here. It is such a strange feeling. We were apart for most of my life, but I am so thankful to know I will see her again in heaven someday. And then we'll be able to really know each other.

Thank God for Jesus! It's all because of Him that we have this future and hope, this truth that you share through both your music and writing.

God bless and keep you and your family always. Merry Christmas!

The Hibbard Family said...

I know most of the blog posts I'm reading right now are a year old, but once I found this blog I had to go back and read from the beginning. I've been a fan of your music since before I even knew it was your music! My husband and I had a bond because of the things you write before we ever knew we'd be husband and wife. Anyway...

Thank you for this post. My grandparents are in their late 80's and do not travel at all these days. It is a struggle for us to visit them because they live three hours away and can't really handle overnight guests but want to bend over backwards to accommodate our every need when we're there. But, we have their only great-grandchildren, and they greatly adore those kids. So, even though it's a VERY long day trip for three small children, we go anyway as often as we can. This post just reminded me of how very important those trips are. Thank you for the reminder...I think I just might call them today!