I am a little bit ashamed of some members of my close circle of family and friends. Actually, I am a little ashamed of a lot of young folks today. For their lack of patience and humility and thankfulness to their elders.
(Before I get going, let me exclude those young folks who have "breeders" instead of true parents. Being a parent is about what happens AFTER a child is born.)
When my mother was alive, we were taught and expected to treat "elders" a certain way. I'm pretty sure that Mom would be embarrassed by her living family.
For the things we do out of ignorance, I can understand, but for the things we do out of wanting to be grown or thinking we are "cute," I can't. And it's always the people with the most tissue-thin feelings who have the sharpest claws. People who can't stand criticism who can really dish it out. Isn't that funny - or is that just life?
How do you fix your priorities so that your friends come before your elders? How do you find it okay to put up with the crap from your friends, but the habits of your blood elders just makes the hairs on your neck stand up?
How do you find it in you to drop those big ol' tears and talk about "missing Grammy" (or whoever your particular deceased elder was) when you can shut those tears off the minute you need to show your behind? I just have to shake my head and say, "Really, y'all? Seriously?"
When my mother was alive, there were times that I just had to grit my teeth and get behind a closed door and count to a million! (Yes, my lovable mother could be a major attitude carrier. LOL) But when I came out from behind that door, I had fixed my face into an expression that Mama wouldn't be tempted to slap off of me, and I never snapped an attitude or raised my voice. Not to Mama. I didn't roll my eyes or purse my lips. I didn't even THINK too hard about anything smart I'd want to say. (And not just because I liked living, but because of RESPECT.)
I remember many things my sister and I had to give up or do without in order to have Mom be happy where she lived - which meant having her other children and grandchildren around. These things were not always of a monetary nature. Sometimes it was just a lack of privacy, or being able to lock the front door and have people knock before the came in hollering, "Hi, Grammy!!!" For the longest time, I was jealous of single friends who would say they were going to leave work, go home and light candles, put on some music and just walk around scratching their ass if they wanted. The very few times I dated (and I CAN count these instances on one hand with plenty of fingers left over!), I didn't have the luxury of inviting my date in for a drink or just to hang out while I finished getting ready. Well, let me correct that: not unless I wanted to expose my mother and children to the man or, God help him, expose the man to them! LOL
Did I wish for things to be different? Rarely. I loved what I had with my family. I treasured having my mother right there with me. Whenever I did get wistful about how my life might have been different, I just thanked God for the life I had. Yeah, life could have been different, but I would have had regrets. I don't have many regrets, not even now.
And I know that no matter how ill or cranky Mama got, she was never in any way made to feel like she was a burden. My sister taught me how to make my mother feel like she was the glue that held us all together instead of a burden to be dealt with. My sister taught me that my mother was no more a burden to us than we had ever been to her.
So, for all the young people out there, I don't know what you are suffering through. Your circumstances might be a whole lot different than mine were. But I will ask this of you: don't let a funeral creep up where you end up crying tears of shame or guilt or regret. Live and act now so that your tears will be all about the joy and the missing and the love.