I have heard time and time again from friends, acquaintances, even strangers, how wonderful my mother is. She has this strange effect on people. When she leaves the room people make this comment. But it wasnt until my mother broke her wrist and I had to take her to the hospital, that I discovered why.
She fell over on the footpath, tripped on an uneven piece of concrete. She was eighty-three years old at the time but has always looked twenty years younger. Her hand was bent sideways and very swollen. It looked like a blue rubber glove that someone had blown air into.
I took her to emergency. Within five minutes of the triage nurse taking down her name, address, date of birth etc I heard two of the nurses at reception walking off saying, Isnt she gorgeous!
It struck me how strange this was. They had only just met her and yet they felt a warmth towards her as if they had known her for ages.
The nurses took us into one of the cubicles and had my mum get up on the bed. She was very lighthearted as she chatted to the nurse who was administering a local anaesthetic into her arm so the doctor would be able to set it.
When her arm was numb the doctor started the process of putting it back in place.
‘It’s like a mutant hand,’ she joked, ‘It’s like a thing that doesn’t belong to me.’
As the doctor pulled and twisted her arm, my mum turned her head away, screwing up her face.
The doctor asked, Does it hurt?
No, says Mum, her face still screwed up.
Jokingly the doctor asked, Then why are you screwing up your face?
Im waiting for it to hurt,’ she replied.
‘But if you wrinkle your face, how will I know if Im hurting you?
My mum giggled. The banter went on like this backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards and all the while she had her eyes tightly shut like a little girl.
While she was wheeled off for another Xray, the nurse said to me. Your mum is just gorgeous.’
Here was my chance to ask why. ‘What is it about her that makes you say this?’ I asked.
The nurse replied, ‘She is so bright and when someone is bright people around you brighten up. She has that effect.’
So now I know. My mother is able to make people feel good without even knowing shes doing it. It’s in her attitude towards life, her engagement with people. It’s in her ability to remain young in her mind and maybe most importantly, to be playful.
Imagine the world if we all had this ability.