Sharing My Wisdom

My youngest daughter made a request of me several years ago, to write down for her the wisdom I have acquired from all these many years of being alive, with even more under my belt now. She gives me too much credit. For a moment or two or three, I was stumped. I was certain, when she asked, I had learned very little if anything, nothing of value to hand down to her, nothing like a key to the door that will take her home when she needs to, no gems to soften the worry that happens in the middle of the night, no answers for the whys and the conundrums.

I made a joke at the time, to distract from my lack of parental preparedness. Be careful of the noises you make while sitting on a wooden chair in a large quiet library hall with a very high ceiling, while wearing a headset. You can’t hear the world, but the world can hear you. Or so I’ve been told. If you’ve given birth to four children, and it’s highly likely it requires even less births, be careful of sneezing while standing up. Never put a clean I’m-going-to-town t-shirt on before you’ve finished the last of your morning coffee. It never ends well.

But surely, I have more gems than spilling coffee and sneezing. When Thea was nine, she was invited to speak to a graduating class of nurses on the subject of her Type 1 Diabetes. She was well prepared and told them what it felt like to be on the inside of diabetes. Thea was eloquent. The final question a nurse posed was what piece of advice Thea would share with those working in the medical field. Thea never missed a beat. Listen to the moms, Thea said, her voice certain. Moms know what to do. Thea is right. Several times when I arrived at hospital with Thea after her having had a seizure brought on by a severe drop in blood sugar, the doctor looked at me and asked me to tell her what the protocol should be for treating Thea under these circumstances. You know more than we do, one doctor said, and I willingly shared my wisdom, acquired over the many years of caring for my daughter who is now very skilled at caring for herself. She no longer needs me to look over her shoulder at her blood sugars and how to adjust her insulin. She’s got it, so no need to share my wisdom on this particular subject.

Instead, I tried to compile a list of things I wish I had known when I was maneuvering the wilderness called life, such as there’s no need to hurry. There’s nothing to be gained from running and chances are you will miss a lot of what was important to see. The demons and scary creatures that crawled out from under your bed and took up the chase will eventually catch you, so, best to turn around and face them and stop the running. Ask said demons what they have come looking for, give them the answers and tell them to move on.

There is beauty and magic in the most menial of chores – like cleaning out the fridge or scrubbing a toilet. It’s not the job in itself, but how we tackle it, doing our best, giving it our all. There are more than 67 million domestic workers worldwide, not including child workers, and the vast majority of them work in slave like conditions, and yes, even here in Canada (CBC Ideas February 15/21) with the ILO (International Labour Office) taking very little action in developing standards of protection. Maybe Thea could tackle that one.

Running your finger along the backs of your hands and smoothing out the wrinkles reminds you of all the adventures your hands have seen. Look for the stories rather than the aging skin. I’m not sure Corn Flakes have ever really been worth the bother when one considers the extra time required in teeth brushing after a meal of said cereal, but I suppose the same could be said of Oreos and I’m not sure I could give up Oreos. Life has no defined destination but rather, it is a journey. I think the most valuable lesson I have learned is – when we are stripped of life’s clutter, we discover that the only thing that really matters is those we love, and to make darn sure at every opportunity to let them know just how very much we love them. Tied for top spot is forgiveness.

I’ll keep compiling my list, but I have a pretty strong sense that Thea already has all the wisdom she needs, tucked neatly into her soul.

wendistewart@live.ca