I'll never forget that moment. The moment that I knew Mom was different.
I was probably in the 3rd or 4th grade and I had invited a girlfriend over to my house to play on a Saturday afternoon. It was the first time she had been in our home. As she entered our house, I remember her looking around our den with wide-eyes and saying, "Wow. Nothing in your house matches." Wh-at??? It was if my eyes had been opened for the first time to my surroundings. She was right. Nothing did "match" in our house.
Let me describe our little den. Red shag carpet. (Now, keep in mind, it was the 70's and actually red shag carpet was pretty cool.) Bright turquoise chair. Gold recliner. Bright pink pillows scattered around on a paisley couch and love seat with every color in the universe swirling around in the pattern. Maybe the loud paisley couch was supposed to tie in the turquoise, red, gold and pink, but it wasn't working.... trust me. Two end tables at either end of the couch, neither which were the same, and a coffee table that didn't match either of the end tables. And of course, the broken birds everywhere. (check previous blog post for explanation on the broken birds.)
After that little girl left, I remember asking Mom, "Why don't you buy things that match when you decorate?" She looked at me like I had just asked the silliest question ever, and said, "Well honey, WHO decides what matches and what doesn't? It all matches to ME." However, I decided right then and there that I when I grew up and had my own house, I would buy things that matched. I would make sure I didn't ever feel the embarassment of being accused of GASP not matching!!
Fast forward years later.... I was married. I had bought my own home and had carefully decorated it with modern matching furniture. Mother came to visit and she looked around, obviously not that impressed. Then she said, "You know, i don't really have room for that turquoise chair in my den anymore and I thought I'd give it to you." NO! NOT THE TURQUOISE CHAIR!! I tried to hide my distain at the thought of that chair ruining my carefully decorated living room and I tried to gracefully decline the offer as I sheepishly said, "Uh, Mom... gee... that's awful nice of you, but I'm not sure it would.... uh.... match.... the rest of my furniture." She looked at me with that look she would give me when she thought I was being ridiculous and said, "Well good grief Marcia, why on earth do you think everything has to match?" At that point, years of frustration came out and I said, "Well, GEE Mother, have you ever looked around at other people's homes? They buy things that MATCH. Things that GO TOGETHER. What is wrong with trying to decorate like NORMAL PEOPLE do????" I'm sure she wanted to punch me right then and there, but she just shook her head and said, "If you go through your life looking around at other people and trying to copy what they do, you will never be satisfied. Marcia, you have to stop comparing yourself and your life to others."
I didn't "get" it then. I do now.
This past Christmas, I asked for Sarah Young's daily devotional book, "Jesus Calling". My youngest son, Samuel gave it to me. I have treasured that book everyday. While holding my Mother's hand during the last days of her life on earth, this book kept me at peace. It spoke to me. It nurtured me. It brought peace to me and Mom. We read the words together and it reminded us that we were meant for another world and Mom was on her way there, which was a reason to celebrate.
Last week, I read a page in this book that reminded me so much of Mom's words to me so many years ago. "Stop comparing."
"Stop comparing yourself with other people. This produces feelings of pride or inferiority; sometimes, a mixture of both. I lead each of My children along a path that is uniquely tailor-made for him or her. Comparing is not only wrong; it is also meaningless."
Such truth in that. And a lesson that took me many, many years to really believe. But I truly understand it now. Comparing ourselves or our "paths" to others will only produce frustration and discontent, OR a false sense of accomplishment. Either way, it's not good for us. Even though I know that is truth, I still struggle with it daily. I'm sure many of you do too. We live in a world that is ALL ABOUT comparing, so it's hard to not fall into that trap. How do you resist the urge to compare??? Please share with the rest of the class. :-)
Oh... one more little thing about Mom.....When the time came to move Mother into an assisted-living apartment here in Nashville, I remember taking a tour of several apartments we could choose from. Mother was unhappy about moving out of her little house and into a new apartment, so she was pretty grumpy and being uncooperative about picking an apartment. We had looked at several in the bldg, and then the leasing manager said, "Now there is one more apartment and it's a prime location, but many people have passed because they didn't like the color of the carpet." All the other apartments had neutral color carpeting. Beige or taupe. Boring! As we walked into Apt. #333, Mother's eyes immediately lit up! "It's so pretty! I love it!", she exclaimed. The leasing agent looked surprised, but relieved that she had finally found someone who wanted an apartment with TURQUOISE carpet. God knew she was coming and had that place waiting just for her. :-)
Much love.... M