How to live fully in the present moment
When I was growing up, my mom would always tell me stories about her life as a child being
taken care of and living with her grandparents, vs. her unstable mother and absent father. All
through my growing years, she would add more and more details about her past and nearly every
occasion would bring up a story already told or a new one to fit the occasion.
My mom never took really great care of herself. Now I realize that, inside, although she was
happy with all of us kids, she really longed for the “good old days” of being with all of her
relatives. She loved my dad for a long time at the first of their marriage. But as time went on,
their differences and her lack of either knowledge of how to change the situation, or lack of
desire to, caused them to drift farther and farther apart.
I remember in my late teens, mom went to Salt Lake City to go and live with my sister, leaving
my dad and me home to work at our respective jobs and still live in the house together. Being
tied up into my own life, I really didn't notice my dad. Was he happy? Relieved? Upset? I was
Getting my own job in Salt Lake several months later left my dad completely alone in the house.
I didn't care or notice, as I was off on my own little adventure. I called home a lot to talk to him,
but that was about it
While we were out with my sister, my mom's health deteriorated for one reason or another and
she finally went home to where my dad was, still in their house. I stayed out west to get
married, lose my husband to a violent death, and have a baby.
Bringing my baby home, less than a year after mom went back to our old home with dad, I was
shocked at how she had deteriorated: legally blind, extremely underweight, except for her
stomach and sort of disoriented quite a bit. After seeing her state, I found that, although she could
have combated adult diabetes with diet and pills, she ignored it and became frail and lost her
eyesight. She was also bleeding rectally on a regular basis, but refused to go to the doctor about it
until I personally just made the appointment.
I refused to tell her where we were going on that day, but when we pulled up to the professional
building , she knew and the look behind her large, brown, nearly sightless eyes froze me with its
resigned sadness. But the frost went off and I hustled her inside.
The doctor immediately discovered a huge, cancerous mass in her abdomen and rectum. From
the appointment on Wednesday, she was hospitalized on Friday and operated on on Monday.
From what the doctor said, they lost her up to five times on the table. She just kept giving up, but
they kept bringing her back.
She survived the removal of 25 pounds of malignant tumor, but she was not a happy mom. Never
the same, she lived (and I use that term loosely) for another two and a half years before the
malignancy that had touched her liver spread to take over the rest of her. I remember most
coming into her room as she slept fitfully, her reaching up to her family that had come to get her.
At last she could go back and be with the family she loved the most, to the time she loved the most, in the past she loved the most. Do I think that the time she gave to us was just a stopgap before going where she really wanted to be? Perhaps, but she gave us a great life.
Had I known what I know now, I would have tried to help bring her into the here and now and give her a new "past" or "Now" to live and enjoy. Do I think I could have changed her? I doubt it. She knew where she wanted to be and, in the end, she finally made it back. I only hope that she knows what she taught us all about being here, being now, just being.
November 23, 1998
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Priscilla Normandy Greenwood
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