I was adopted as a child, but for some reason, (I think my adopted family felt sorry for my biological mother), my adopted family allowed me to stay in contact with my real biological mother. Let’s call her by her name, Pat. This allowed me to have a fairly good relationship with Pat. She was highly gifted with intelligence. So much so she could have easily been a member of Mensa. However, for some reason though, she wasn’t so gifted in common sense. Without going into too much detail, my brothers and sisters and I, were ripped away from her and taken into social care. I was 2 years old at the time, so far too young to have any knowledge as to what was happening.
She, Pat, always loved history. So m much so, she followed and wrote out the entire British Royal family tree. From the modern day Royals, with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, all the way back to King Harold and the battle of Hastings in 1066. She could also recite who was married to who, and who did what on what date, throughout this entire history. To the many disdain and a rolling eye of anyone who just happened to enquire anything about it.
I myself, was a person who prided myself on being what the modern day millennials would call ‘woke’.’ But not in the Neo-liberal sense. More in the fact, that I would laugh at the illusion of the ‘rat race.’ Where sophisticated people would sit on the train. Looking ever so sullen. Travelling to work, everyday on the ‘Tube’. Working just enough, to buy that 4 bedroom semi-detached house in Surrey, the nice Jag, and a couple of holidays to sunny Spain and a winter break in France. All the while never ever being truly happy in life.
At her wake there were more than 200 people in attendance. Mostly from her council estate and from her church.
And yet at the same time, I was annoyed at my mother for having this amazing gift of intelligence and never doing anything about it. She stayed in the same council flat for the past 50 years, never holding down a full time job, and not really doing much, in the sense of what is regarded as ‘success’ by modern day society. Or so I thought.
Then one day I received a call from my eldest brother, Brian. He informed me that Pat had suddenly passed away. I had been with her about a week previous to this, and like most people, we were making plans so I could help her with some of her problems. It was at her wake that her final and most potent lesson to me was given. At her wake there were more than 200 people in attendance. Mostly from her council estate and from her church. I know that at a wake people are always very respectful of the deceased, and always say good things about them. But what I learned came as a massive shock and completely humbling experience to me.
My mother had led a double life. In her home she had amassed a ton of what I called rubbish, which actually turned out to be clothing and stuff from jumble sales. If you saw how much stuff there was , you’d know what I mean. The entire flat was covered with ‘junk’. It was impossible to walk from one end to the other without having to tread on something. My mother unbeknownst to me, had been helping run jumble sales for lots of different churches and was using her ‘own money’ to buy all of the stuff in the jumble sale so that the money could be put to good use. She then kept all of this ‘stuff’ in her flat.
My mother had also apparently devoted her life to the church. And had in one way or another, helped so numerous people on her Council estate, either by babysitting, caring for the elderly, or completing chores for people. As you can imagine I had prepared a eulogy, but was left utterly speechless. I had judged my mother on the same criteria of success, that I myself so despised. And yet here she had been, helping every single person she came in contact with, for no reward or praise.
It was and still is a wonderful lesson and only one that I think my mother could have given. So please, always try to remember that when you next decide to judge others for their decisions in life and the way they lead their lives. It may not be the same as yours. You may not think their version of life is successful, as you regard it, but then who are you to judge and who’s to say your criteria is correct?
Thank you mother for this fantastic lesson and I hope to never forget and live by it. Do you have any interesting stories of your mother or anyone on your family? Do you fully appreciate them? Do you show them you appreciate them? If you want to share, then drop me a line on my Facebook or Instagram accounts. I’d love to hear your stories.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
- Albert Einstein