This is one of my favorite pictures.
This is a pre-Mother’s Day shout out to my mother. I think my mother and her sisters are the embodiment of “Loving kindness.” My mother called for her usual Saturday check-in and recount of all the family news. She updated me on my uncle’s fight with lung cancer and her new job. At age 79, she has decided to work 5 hours a day. She said she just wants to get out of the house. She has been caring for people since I was born. She was the primary caregiver and health proxy for my grandparents, church members and my late stepfather. We always laugh and end the call but this time, the conversation shifted to the embattled ex-governor of Alabama. Of course, we all should know about the scandal and his resignation. Alabama has a long history of governors who have not shown love and kindness for African Americans. So, to my surprise, she said “Have you heard about our governor? Don’t you feel sorry for him?” Well, my initial response was to smile and remain silent. I wanted to hear what she had to say. And once again, “loving kindness “and “judge not lest you be judged” was on full display.
She said” I feel so sorry for him. He has lost everything. I think he meant well.” I smiled and listened.
“His wife left him and his children are refusing to talk to him. He moved out of the Governor’s Mansion today. There were only two men and a pick-up truck helping him.” If anyone else had said this, I would have been laughing out loud. Yet, I listened to my mother and smiled. As I heard these remarks, I flashed back to all the hate that has defined the political seen in Alabama. Yet, at 79, that is not what she is focusing on. She always encouraged us to be decent, loving and respectful. My grandmother always said ‘if you can’t find anything good to say then just keep quiet.” I found myself reflecting on this and just not saying anything but “I guess you are right.”
I had the honor of participating in a five-series program sponsored by my hospital. We had two hospital chaplains who are Buddhist monks lead us in resiliency and transformation sessions. The sessions focused on contemplative medicine through refection and meditation. I do find myself really listening to my patients, residents, friends and family members better. It is caused being present. In his TED talk Julian Treasure talked about “conscious listening”. You can use this acronym to help you listen and communicate better. RASA stands for “Receive,” which means pay attention to the person; “Appreciate,” making little noises like “hmm,” “oh,” “OK”; “Summarize” — the word “so” is very important in communication; and “Ask,” ask questions afterwards. So, I use this as much as possible to be a better listener.
So, I love my mother because she always reminds me to be a better person by displaying all the attributes I need to accomplish this. I even found myself feeling sympathy and empathy realizing that we all can make mistakes and one day will need someone to show us “loving kindness” and forgiveness