I spent the last four days of Christmas break visiting my mom. She is 91 years old and still lives in her own house on the farm where I grew up. There are some things she won’t do anymore, but I am impressed and very thankful for her health and strength. For example:
- Last summer, she still mowed the lawn with her riding lawn mower.
- She drives to the hamlet four miles away (we still use miles most often because that is how the roads are laid out) to go to church, get groceries and get the mail—if the road and weather conditions are good.
- She and I play pool in the basement and we are pretty evenly matched.
During my visit, I realized all the ways she keeps her mind active. My mom has always been an avid reader, particularly after my dad died 34 years ago. She and my sister play Scrabble and Rumi-Kub every Sunday afternoon. She follows the Edmonton Oilers and comments on why she thinks they are on a losing streak.
What struck me, though, is the effort she puts into staying connected.
During our weekly phone calls, she usually fills me in on what is happening on the farm, especially during seeding time and harvest. She knows the birthdays of her 40 something (she could probably tell the exact number) grandkids and great grandkids. You can see all of us in the photo above—Mom is front and center on her 90th birthday. The ones who live nearby visit regularly and she talks with them about what is going on in their lives. Her chair faces her living room window and she watches the comings and goings from my siblings and the neighbours, not as a nosey busybody, but because she cares.
On one of the evenings during my visit, she arranged a pizza party so that I had a chance to connect with family, knowing I wouldn’t be able to visit them all. She chose pizza so that it would be easy for people to come, if and when they were able. Most came, not to see me so much as to enjoy Mom’s house which is just a comfortable place to get together.
No fuss and no expectations.
The importance of connecting was on my mind on the first day back from Christmas break. ACS Director of Advancement, Brian Koning sent a link to an article in the Globe and Mail entitled, “Your Smartphone is Making you Stupid.” The article points out that while social media seems to allow us to be more connected, it actually decreases our ability to connect personally.
Technology is a big part of my life and my smart phone is usually nearby in my waking hours. I have made efforts to keep it from monopolizing my time. For instance, I have turned off email notifications. I do know that there have been times when my phone has interfered with connecting with the person/people who are in the same room as me.
If the Globe and Mail article is accurate, one of the challenges facing the students in our classrooms is to prioritize personal connections over virtual ones. My mom is not anti-technology, but she has voiced her recognition of the symptoms described in the article.
As I have aged, I have increasingly considered my mom a wise woman. I pray that there are people in our students’ lives who have the wisdom and example of my mom.