Saturday, January 19, 2013
I Hate Moving: Thinking of Mom and Jack Reacher
My mom (93) and Jack Reacher (ageless) don't have a lot in common. My mom was not an MP in the Army; Jack Reacher does not have a Ph.D., has not written a book about teaching poetry. But helping my mom move this weekend made me think about Jack Reacher ...
It takes a move to remind me how much I hate moving. My brother, nephew, and I just spent the weekend moving my mom, who lives in a stages-of-care facility, from an independent unit to assisted living. And I'm whupped. All her things demanded decisions--what to keep? store? take? donate? save? trash? And few decisions were easy.
But the look on Mom's face when she saw her new place? She was coming from the nursing wing, where she's spent the last two months in rehab after a fall. We were worried, mostly because she had been adamantly opposed to assisted living. (BTW: Look up that word, adamant. Has a hard meaning.) In fact, when she originally moved into her stages-of-care place, she tried to get me to promise I would never move her. I couldn't make that promise--and she was not happy.
So we were worried about her reaction. But we needn't have been. She was thrilled. Her things all around her--her favorite pictures on the wall--everything convenient for her, now that she must use a walker at all times. Over and over she thanked us. But, as I've reminded her, over and over, the River Thanks flows the other way--from me to her. She gave me life--in every way imaginable. How to thank someone for that?
But oh do I hate moving. I told my brother, Dave, as we were leaving for the day, This makes me want to go home and get rid of every object I own. It's become a cliche, I know, but our objects truly do own us--it's not the other way around. Our economy very much rests on our passion for things--on our willingness to go into debt to have them--on our limitless capacity to fall in love with new things and have to have them.
Here's a little test: Sit down in your space; look around you. How many objects are there--just in your line of sight? How many of them do you really need? And how many are there only because you want them--or because you don't know what to do with them? Or, even because you've forgotten you even have them--they are out of your awareness as you walk through the room.
One of the appeals of the Jack Reacher novels is that he moves through life only with the things he can wear or carry. It's one of the things I envy about him--that and his ability to whup anyone who hassles him--which happens every few chapters in the books.
But what am I going to do about all those Jack Reacher novels piled on my floor?