Thursday, April 27, 2017

Telephones And Greeting Cards

Almost 4 weeks ago my mom had a total knee replacement and as I've mentioned in my previous post, her recovery has been long and arduous.

I basically moved in for 2 weeks, interspersed with quick visits home, in order to care for her.

Mom lives in a remote area, her home sits atop a hill surrounded by grass seed fields. I can't convince her to move closer because she lives where she wants to live, end of story.

Life is different in the country and after living in Portland proper for a few years now, I've grown accustomed to convenience and a busy lifestyle. Essentially it has become a life with less focus on relationship and more on the rat race.

When I settled into mom's, I felt a sense of restlessness and nervousness. I felt distracted. I felt isolated and alone. The quiet was unnerving.

My mom doesn't have WiFi, she doesn't have Netflix, she doesn't own a dishwasher or modern conveniences. She uses her woodstove as her main source of heat. She has a telephone that cuts out on the regular due to sketchy phone lines. She doesn't own an IPhone and her water comes from a well.

It turned out I had a thing or two to learn once I settled in at mom's, one of which was telephone etiquette. Apparently you answer the phone when you live in the country. But instead when her land line rang, I just ignored it  because we all know that's what text messaging is for.

Finally mom called from her bedroom, "Aren't you going to answer that?"

"Of course not. Why would I answer a phone, especially one without caller ID?"

But because I try to be a good daughter, I finally picked up the 'receiver' only to hear a concerned voice on the other end. They even knew my name."

It was freaky.

The caller turned out to be one of my mom's good friends calling to check on her and offer any help that might be needed.

It didn't stop there. Phone calls started coming in on the regular and the more I answered, the more agitated I got.

Finally I asked my mom, "Why in the world aren't these people sending text messages instead of using something so archaic as a land line?"

"We do things different up here and besides, we don't have IPLUGS", she told me.

"They're called IPHONES" I yelled, as I stomped off to answer yet again, another phone call.

When I got her mail, I discovered her mailbox was full. I started rifling through all these brightly colored envelopes, similar in size. All were written in cursive, adorned with pretty stickers, addressed to my mother.

They were Get Well cards. Obviously my mom's friends had way too much time on their hands because each passing day brought more cards, more phone calls and hand delivered flower arrangements.

It was quickly becoming a part time job, being her 'secretary'.

But after a week of this nonsense, I found myself answering her phone on the first ring and looking forward to what was in the mailbox that day.

It was then I found the source of my original restlessness.

I was in the process of detoxing.

I was coming down off of city life, of dishwashers and water dispensers on the front of fridges, of Starbucks, of WiFi, of social media, of Target, of noise and distraction, of close neighbors and commuting.

My mind was beginning to still. I found stress dissolving. I found joy in scattering bird seed for all of my mom's mourning doves and building fires in her woodstove, in reading a book and washing dishes by hand.

With each passing day, my agitation began to ease. My mom commented that I appeared less distracted and more present.

Then I took things a step further. I felt inspired to be creative so I took out a stack of greeting cards from my mom's coffer of stationery and started writing cards to family and friends, in cursive.

I addressed all my mom's Easter cards from her handwritten address book.

I sat at her roll top desk and watched the deer out her windows. I brewed tea in the afternoon and swept her porch. I watched nature shows on PBS.

My mom lives in the land of greeting cards and telephones, of neighbor's impromptu visits, of mid day pie and tea with her friends and after church luncheons. I'm a little jealous now that I've seen first hand what it means to live with intention.

It didn't take me long to revert back to my old ways when I left mom's and headed back to my life.
Sadly, the allure of the convenient becomes the norm when really, it shouldn't.

Even though I'm not at the point of making phone calls or dropping by friend's houses without warning, I just might send out some random greeting cards to friends. Of course, only AFTER I text them for their address.

Baby steps.

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