Friday, April 15, 2005

Love & Death III

Our good friend AJ' posted a reflection on the philosophical nature of maturity. AJ said, "Selflessness must be practiced over and over again in order to maintain its position of prominence in our way of thinking" (great sentence AJ!). To paraphrase: Selflessness = Maturity. I certainly agree, but who then is mature? Children can often display astonishingly mature behaviour, and adults astonishingly immature behaviour. Does that mean that given certain circumstances, everyone can be mature and immature no matter what their age? I think so.

I am usually considered a mature and reasonable woman. Even as a child I was considered "mature". Here I am, smack into my middle years but I recently made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. Looking back at how it all transpired, I would like to think that this mistake was made out of misplaced "selflessness". However, I'm afraid it was selfishness all along the way. So am I mature? Yes, most of the time, but sometimes not. From now on, I will try to follow AJ's advice consciously, and practice selflessness over and over again. The following story is my personal fall from grace and subsequent redemption. My new motto: "Mature is as mature does".

My mother has lived in her old house for abut 50 years. Very little has been done to that house in all those years, so you can imagine the shape it's in. Over the years, we have tried to maintain it whenever we could. We could accomplish small tasks such as cleaning, painting, purchasing new furniture, changing fixtures. You know, all the necessary stuff that a house needs but our mom would not spend any money on. Even so, we could not keep up with the work, so the house today, in my opinion, is not fit for human habitation.

I have two brothers, one has lived with our mother for the past thiry five years. I will not go into why he never left home, because I am sure that any reason you can think of will be just as reliable as any reason I can think of. Nevertheless, he was there, and we were happy that he was. There are six of us and we all live in different parts of the country, so having our brother there with mom, meant that we could be free of any guilt about leaving her alone.

Now, this brother (John) we all love dearly. He really is a sweet soul. Except that he drinks. He does work, but he drinks. Even into her 80's mom would make dinner for John when he came home, washed his clothes and generally looked after him as she did when he was a child. He rarely lifted a finger to restore the house because mom never allowed him to do anything, except to repair something that requred immediate attention, such as leaky faucets etc. Mom's premise was that "this is an old house and I won't spend any of my money fixing it because it isn't worth it". Make any sense? No, but what can one do? So John just lived there, free of charge, no rent, no houshold bills and minimal amounts for food. For all this he was to "look after" mom, take her shopping, be around in case of emergencies and generally do what he wants. Not bad work if you want it. I certainly couldn't do it. My mom would have driven me nuts within a week let alone thirty five years. I think I can speak for the other four siblings when I say that. So, thanks John for all your years of filial duty.
Mom passed away at home this past January, and the six of us inherited an equal share of the estate. One of my sisters was the Executor of the estate and that in itself caused mamouth problems with our brothers. What was the selfish mistake I made you may be asking by now? Well, Sister & I put the house on the market for sale thinking that such an old dilapidated place would take months to sell. John would have time to get used to moving and all would be well. The house sold within two days and John had three months to move. The only home John has ever known and fifty years of family accumulation needed to be moved very quickly. The proverbial sh.. hit the fan and Sister & I were the family pariahs. It was a mistake from the beginning. I, in my maturity and experience, should have known that one must never make hurried decisions in times of emotional distress. In fact, I have even advised others of making such a mistake, but I didn't take my own advice. If I ever believed in God, now was the time to start praying for forgiveness and how to make restitution to our brother, a person who has always been kind to everyone. My next post will complete this story of selfishness, selflessness, maturity, and responsibility and brotherly love.


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