(NNPA) — Dear Alma,
My husband was laid off after 16 years on the job. My salary alone wasn’t enough to keep up with the bills, so we decided moving in with my mom was the best thing. She has been having health problems anyway and is in need of care, so this works out for the all of us. My mom was in the hospital a few months back and was talking out of her mind. She told the doctors that I had been mistreating her, which wasn’t true.
During that time her best friend and neighbor visited regularly and knew everything that was going on. I’ve know this woman all of my life. While my mom was in the hospital this friend totally turned on me. I think she was even talking about me to the other neighbors. We had a big falling out about my mom’s care and what was really the truth. It was ugly! Anyway, I say all this to give you some background because she recently died and my mom wants me to cook and help her family out with her funeral. I’m thinking she must be crazy. Remember this woman has been awful to me, about all I can do is write a check. My friend told me about your column so I thought I’d ask your opinion?
T.B. in the Bahamas
Excuse me T.B., while I sip on my blueberry tea. I wanna make sure I’ve got a hold of all that’s happening in your house – oh wait it isn’t, it’s your mama’s home. Now that we’ve established authority, I can understand how difficult it is to find your adult-self and your husband, moving in with your mother. You and I both can agree and recognize, clearly it wasn’t ever a part of the game plan. But let’s not be ungrateful for this blessing, at least ya’ll have somewhere to go, so don’t get it twisted. While I can sympathize with your situation (sip, sip, aaahh) hold up, why are we talking about you and your immature issues when you’re mother just lost her dear friend? Since you asked, I gotta tell you ~ this shouldn’t be about you, it’s all about your mama! Yes, by all means you should help.
This woman and your mom have had a long, loving and valuable friendship over the years. I’m sure, similar to Lucy & Ethel, Florida & Willona, Maaary & Rose, you hear what I’m sayin? These women, although on television, lived as neighbors who took great care of each other. When you saw one, you saw the other. They knew each other’s business and everybody else’s business, too, for that matter, LOL. I too grew up with these friendships beautifully displayed in my old neighborhood. I watched grown women weathering the various storms of life, supporting each other through marriage and children, sometimes divorce, the loss of a child and even widowhood. Can’t you see, your mother is asking this of you because it’s just as if an aunt has died? It’s all the same to her – her best friend was just like family. She loved her and her love for her friend (your play aunt) outweighs anything you can argue, cuss or fuss about. So simmer down, reach for a cup of compassion, your mother is in a very fragile place, bless her heart.
I know I hear you, ya’ll had a fallen out, WHATEVER! Even if your mother was speaking out of her mind, as you say, her friend would only show solidarity towards your mom. That’s just the way it is between friends. Fall off your high horse before I push you off, forgive that woman for the misunderstanding between the two of you, and let it go. Pick up the phone right now and offer your services to her family. You hear me! Put on your mother’s shoes and pearls, and get to stepping. Don’t you sit down and take your shoes off until the memorial, funeral, wake or whatever is over.
Your mom has lived long enough to know you can’t truly love without giving, and the giving doesn’t have anything to do with money. It’s about giving of your time, offering up support that comes from your heart and unconditional care that isn’t measured. When death takes a loved one, there’s no room for discontent or the holding of a grudge. Your mother is looking to see the best rise out of her daughter, stop acting like a child. Mind your manners girl, we both know while she was in her right mind, she taught you better.
Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.