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Cheryl Hughes: Life's Pressing Questions

My stepmom, who will be 88 in the fall, is currently staying with my stepsister, Lorrie, at her home in eastern Kentucky.  She has been there since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.  Mom normally lives by herself in Taylorsville, but Lorrie felt she would be safer with her until the pandemic is a bit more under control.  My brothers and sisters and I agree.  

Lorrie is a retired attorney who still does occasional work for a few clients at her home in Prestonsburg.  Since Mom has been living with her, it has been a bit challenging for Lorrie to complete the normally simple task of typing.  Mom can get a little confused at times, plus she likes having her daughter’s attention.  Recently, Lorrie told Mom she would be typing something for a client on the following morning, and she did not need to be disturbed while she was in the process.  Lorrie set the TV to the news channel Mom likes to watch each morning.  She put coffee in the coffee maker and made sure Mom knew which button to push to set the brew in motion.  She set breakfast pastries on the counter then went to bed with the assurance that she would have an uninterrupted, fruitful typing session the following morning.

Lorrie got up at six the next morning.  Mom usually sleeps until eight, but that morning Lorrie heard her rummaging around in the kitchen at six-thirty.  Still, she was confident Mom would be able to entertain herself while she finished her clients’ work.  

At seven, Mom came to the door of Lorrie’s in-home office.  

“Lorrie, I need to ask you a question,” Mom said.

Lorrie looked up from her typing.  “I’m really busy, can it wait?” Lorrie asked.

“No, it’s important,” Mom said.

Lorrie sighed.  “Okay, Mom, what is the question?”

“Where’s my brassiere?” Mom asked

Like most people my age, I have come to realize if you live long enough, life comes full circle.  I remember Aggie (Garey’s mom) saying “Twice a child” as I helped her remove her seatbelt as we arrived at her daughter’s house the last time we visited.

I was four years old the first time I came to understand I would have to be responsible for myself.  I asked my stepmom, “Where are my shoes?’

“They’re your shoes,” she said, “Find them yourself.”  I did.

As I grew older, there were other questions, however, that weren’t so easily answered.  As a child and young adult, I was always anxious about doing the right thing.  It seemed no matter what choice I made, I always questioned if it were the right one.  I had a sense that there was always one right answer for every situation that confronted me, and every other answer, while not being blatantly wrong, was still substandard if it weren’t the perfect answer.

  I was raised during a time when people talked a lot about purpose and destiny, and I think I took that philosophy much more seriously than I should have.  As I’ve aged, I am more accepting of myself and my situation.  I am able to look at my life and the lives of those around me and ask, “What do I need to do today to make things better, not just for myself, but also for those in my circle of influence?  I have learned to let my life unfold and to trust the process.

Occasionally, I struggle with questions that have no easy answers, and I still lose my shoes, but at least, I live with an understanding husband who can’t always find his shoes either.  We search for things together.  For me, I think that is my answer—to have someone who will go with me and help me make the best possible choice.

(Mom’s brassier was in the dryer.)    


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