I’ve been thinking a lot about deadlines lately. Probably because I’ve been dealing with a lot of them at work. I mean, many people are working toward some kind of deadline at the office. And my ability to meet a deadline has featured prominently on my resumé ever since I’ve had one. I possess the ability to “prioritize and achieve deadlines”. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about…Life deadlines. Particularly around the ultimate deadline headed everyone’s way at some point – Death. It could be because we’re in the middle of Hallowe’en season, but I know that a big part of it has to do with me thinking about the time I’ve got left. Specifically, about the time I’ve got left with my Mom. Before I go on, there isn’t any new news on the health front for either of us. It’s not like the deadline is imminent (to our knowledge). And I genuinely hope that when my time comes, I meet Death just like the youngest brother in the tale of “The Three Brothers” – like I’m greeting an old friend. (I know, I’m talking about something specific to the Harry Potter universe, but I can’t help it. The animation of these tales in the Deathly Hallows movie is quite simply, beautiful.) I’m not ready for that day yet. And I’m certainly not ready for my Mom to have this day yet either.
About a week before my Mom’s second stroke, which resulted in her aphasia, I was sitting on the couch trying to watch a TV show, and my Mom was telling me a long story about her session with her physiotherapist. I remember distinctly telling myself to, “Turn away from the TV and give her your full attention.” At that time, I remembered reading something that Mindy Kaling had said about her mother’s passing, and admitting that she remembered her mother’s voice distinctly. And I wanted to make sure I remembered my mother’s voice distinctly too. I needed to make sure I didn’t forget. So I muted the TV and gave her all of my attention to listen. Looking back, I don’t remember the whole story. I don’t even fully remember all the auditory details of her voice. I do, though, remember how happy she looked speaking to me, and she was chatting and laughing a mile a minute. I still hear bits and pieces of her voice daily, though it’s not quite as strong as it once was. I remember when Mom first developed her aphasia, I went back desperately trying to find videos of her speaking or singing. I was so upset that we didn’t have much on video. We had many photographs, but not too much by way of recordings of her voice. It made me very sad, but also very angry that we hadn’t thought of getting every single moment on video so we could hang onto it for exactly this type of situation. (Because, of course I would think this – what over-thinker wouldn’t?)
There was a time a couple of years ago that I was too tired to worry about any kind of deadline. Because the deadlines were incessant. And this happens a lot when you work in “deadline-driven” environments. I fully acknowledge that this is also of my own making, since I happen to really enjoy being busy at work. (To be clear – busy at work is not the same as being overworked.) When I finally got some time to rest and remember what deadlines are important to me, I realized that I don’t care a lot about many of them. Look – I care about doing good work, and I care about meeting my commitments – but I like to think that I am not as heavily invested in things that are not more important to me than spending my time with the people I love. The truth is, I have thought a lot about the time I have spent focusing on deadlines that have nothing to do with this and I don’t want to waste anymore of my time. I am very often too exhausted to do much except to take care of what’s going on at home so if I do get the chance to break free, I realized that I needed to find a bit more time to get some of my energy back. And part of this process was to make sure I made the extra time for things that truly make a difference in my life. Because I know time is short – everyone has their own “Carpe Diem” moment eventually. And while this isn’t my first, I think the pandemic has served as a grim reminder for me that I really need to have more “Carpe’ing” in order to make sure I keep real estate in my brain and my heart for all of the things I don’t want to forget. So before either of us hit that final deadline, I am trying to treasure this time I’ve got with my Mom, and all my other loved ones. It’s certainly not always easy, but I know it’s the best way to make the most of the time I’ve got left before this deadline hits.
Listen to Amanda’s Podcast Episode: For the Love of a Loving Mother
I’d like to say I fall into the “sandwich generation” – and while I have no children of my own to care for – I find myself falling somewhere in between caring for my mother and caring for my sanity. When I am not working, I have the honour of helping look after my amazing mother, who has suffered 2 strokes in the past 11 years. Being a caregiver is not for the faint of heart, and if I am being honest, it can be a crappy club to be a member of. I have fallen down more times than I care to count through this journey, but while channeling my incredible stubbornness, strength (both of which I come by honestly,) and several F-words (Faith, Family, Friends and Food), I keep getting back up. IG: @Coolman_Eh