Wisdom of the age
On Friday, at home from the couch in my living room, I watched the wedding of William and Catherine. In fact, I intentionally woke up at 4:00 in the morning so that I would not miss a moment of the celebrations. Many times throughout the ceremony and processions, I found myself feeling wistful, even sad, about Princess Diana not being there to experience that beautiful day in her oldest son’s life. I thought she would have been proud to see him standing tall and handsome next to his soon-to-be princess. I also noticed that when Prince Charles appeared with his wife, Camilla, I became uneasy. Quite uncomfortable, in fact.
As the wedding progressed I thought about my 94 year old mother watching the television along with all of us – two billion or so souls around the world – in our case, me in Philadelphia, USA, and she in Israel. I had been texting back and forth with girl friends about fashions, the “dress,” or what we thought about this or that incident or situation. For example, at one point I texted a friend: “What do you think the Queen carries in her handbag?” She responded immediately, “… A sandwich!” she wrote.
After awhile I called my mother on the phone. She answered quite quickly. I imagined her sitting in her special chair by her bed watching the television. My sister had informed me via text earlier that our mother was “glued” to the TV. We exchanged greetings and talked briefly about what Queen Elizabeth was wearing. My mother was not very impressed with her yellow outfit, she told me. I mentioned that I was sad about Diana not being there. She agreed. Then I said that Camilla, Prince Charle’s wife was getting on my nerves. I even said out loud, shamelessly, that I found myself hoping she would trip on the steps of the Abbey!
My mother was quiet for a moment and then stated, “You don’t like her.”
“I guess,” I responded, thinking to myself, “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Well,” my mother ruminated softly, “I suppose each person has their own way of being sad about Diana.”
Tears filled my eyes, as I instantly realized with shame that through my sorrow about Diana, I had judged Camilla harshly. More than that, though, I was in awe of my mother’s gentle, non-judgmental way she had spoken her thoughts out loud to me: no admonishment, no change in inflection as she spoke … just the statement, which immediately filled me with empathy, and understanding.
Sitting here in a corner Starbucks by the sea in Waikiki writing this post – waiting for my conference to begin, I reflect on my brief, poignant conversation with my wise old mother last week, and I feel proud to be her daughter.