It’s easy to convince yourself that you really know someone. At least, speaking for myself, it was easy for me. Probably easier to believe that you know your parent better than most people you know – I mean, who else have you had a relationship with since birth, but your mom or dad? (If either one of them stuck around following the blessed event, of course)
I never gave it any thought growing up – did I know my mom? She was my mom. Certainly it should go without saying that I knew her, and well. When her ovarian cancer returned, I gave it plenty of thought. After reading a book about dealing with cancer I made the time, I interviewed my mom. My intention was to help her to realize her part in the grand scheme of things, to help her find a reason to fight harder to live. Instead, I realized in taking the time to get to know her, I didn’t really know her as well as I thought. I also learned that she’d been dealt a pretty raw hand before she ever reached puberty.
After she died, all I had gathered during the ‘interview’ was all I had. Before she died, I liked to tell myself that I knew my mother better than my brother did – but I didn’t. How could I? I knew a few things different than he did, that’s all, but he spent his adult life being a part of her life and I didn’t. There are some things she and I had in common. And I did pay attention, much more attention in those last three years. I am grateful for the time we spent together, the wounds we healed, and the new memories we shared.
I realized that if I want to be a part of someone’s life, I have to do my part. I know the phone goes both ways. So does the mail, the email, the Facebook. I think I’d prefer to get to know someone better the old fashioned way – face to face, or on the phone – voice to voice. And be forewarned, I’ll be taking notes.
I’m just saying, if I think I know someone well, maybe – just maybe – I don’t. But I can change that. Starting today.