One Fortunate Cringe


Mom phoned. I picked up her message around seven p.m. and tried to return her call to no avail. So I called the front desk of the assisted living facility where she has been residing for nearly eight years now and asked them to check on her. They said they would and that they would have her call me back. Mom didn’t phone back.

It’s interesting to watch my mind attempt to make up stories of why mom called. One thought actually made me cringe before I could drop it . . . “Go over and check on her . . . nah, the nurse is checking, she’ll call if anything’s off . . . maybe the staff forgot to check on her and she’s just lying on the floor, alone, in a pool of blood seeping through the floor, dripping on the head of the gentleman in the apartment just below her”. Well, at least that’ll alert them right?

What an outrageous thought and I actually cringed as if this scenario could be true! The good news? That cringe, though it felt nasty, not only alerted me to drop the story, it also flagged other potential stories as not worth giving rise to. It gave some space for me to pay attention to what is actually present and what is merely being dragged off by a fearful scent; mom didn’t answer her phone nor call me back. I made some tea and am drinking it right now and loving my mom. This feels good and that’s the end of the story.

3 Responses to "One Fortunate Cringe"

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  1. Paul

    January 30, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Good story.

    Regarding lying minds: I’ve been dwelling a lot lately on the nature of truth. Most of it is focused externally. But more and more frequently I get a glimpse – another cringe here – of all the untruths I tell myself about myself. I’m beginning to wonder…

  2. Sakula

    January 29, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Hi Paul,

    Proliferating minds can be such a drag to awaken too can’t they? One common trait I’ve notice is how much they lie, like all the time!

    I’m afraid you’ve got me beat when the inevitable happens Paul. I once fell down the porch stairs with one of my grandchildren in my arms and still had time to imagine tossing the baby to my husband less flattening the two of us all over the sidewalk. Oddly we landed on the cement in a slow and smooth fashion, like feathers to a floor. Didn’t hurt a bit. Good thing I didn’t listen to my mind then either as Alistair wasn’t actually watching and would likely of missed the pass off !

  3. Paul

    January 27, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Yes, the cringe at the ring of the phone. The stories the mind writes about the worst possibilities, I think, are to help prepare us for the inevitable. I don’t mean it’s that way by design, but it’s what we do. I don’t like surprises so I tend to make up the surprise endings in advance.

    I noticed an odd thing about myself and the customized ring tones a person can apply to their mobile phones to identify callers. My daughter’s ring is distinctive and pleasant. I want her to check in with me often. But every time she calls – because I know it’s her – there is a cringe in the expectation of bad news. Like the time she called to say she’d been in an accident (not serious but still traumatic).

    But when the news is bad, I notice there is no time for story telling. A year and a half ago I got a call from my father. “Mom doesn’t have much time,” he said. “Two days, maybe.” She had had surgery a week before. Something had gone wrong, but only just now discovered. There was no room in my mind for stories. Just planning what needed to be done in the face of the inevitale.

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