One day after her move to Iowa, Mother mentioned that she wanted to sky dive before she left this earth. My sister Abby and I were so overtaken by surprise and laughter that we could not compose ourselves. We had to excuse ourselves from her humble abode for a few minutes.
We had never known Mother to want to jump out of a plane and, at age 85, we thought it was one of the strangest things we had ever heard (of course, after Mother’s long life, we had heard many strange things from her). In this instance, though, you have to understand that no pilot or sky-diving team would ever agree to take her up for this purpose. Mother’s health was not good: she was on oxygen for COPD, her balance was horrible and her mental health was not the best.
My sister and I asked if there were other things she might want to do. For example, staying put on the ground. Mother said:
You know I’ve always wanted to skydive.
The truth was we did not really know her at all. Having little contact for forty years makes you virtual strangers.
The next words out of her mouth, after the skydiving wish, was that she wanted to take Tai Chi. Now, this may seem normal, unless you knew our mother. She was overweight, had poor balance and a very bad attitude.
Mother never liked to listen and follow directions so Abby and I were sure that it would not work. She hounded us until we finally told her it would not fit into our schedule. Mother assured us that she would figure it all out, get a ride to the YMCA and make her wish come true. “With or without us!”
The truth is it never happened. Mother lost interest and replaced it with the verbal barrage of her need to attend college so she could further her education. Admirable, maybe. Realistic, never! You see, our Mother wanted the classes scheduled for her convenience. She would prefer to have a break so she could eat and drink. Well, drink mostly. Then upon her return to the class, she would hope that the other students had disappeared so she could monopolize the time of the instructor.
Unfortunately, Mother was unable to locate a college that would cater to her scheduling wishes before shuffling off this mortal coil.
Dreams are wonderful but it is also important to keep your feet on the ground, particularly if you have balance problems.