I was feeling pretty discontented the other day. It was cold and rainy. Winter’s round the corner. The house was a mess. I had things to fix around the house, and a few other problems.
My mother called and we had a chat. She has such excellent mother’s intuition that whenever she hears me whingeing my head off she knows instantly that I’m not in a good mood. (She knows lots of other stuff too.)
“So what’s wrong?” she asked, mildly.
She was probably sorry she asked. Here she is, an 81 year old women who survived the second world war in bomb-hit Britain, was widowed twice, raised two annoying children on her own, coped with two bouts of cancer and now she has a range of age-related health problems – and she had to listen to a whining 54-year-old saying essentially It’s not fair, or something approximate.
She listened to my weedy little tale of woe patiently and after I’d eventually run out of steam she said, mildly, Well you could always count your blessings.
“What? What blessings?” I said irritably.
Well I don’t know, she said. Let’s see…
…Is the house heated?
Is the internet working?
Are you in pain?
Are you healthy?
As far as I can tell, yes.
Are you hungry?
Have you got food in the house?
Are you still seeing the guy you like?
Is he good to you?
Did you have a holiday this year?
Yes, a couple.
Were they good?
Do you still love living in France?
Have you got good friends?
Is your eyesight good?
Pretty good, with contact lenses. You know all this, mum.
She ignored that and continued.
Have you got a free supply of wood for the winter?
Yes, from the forest.
Is your car OK?
Have you got good plans for Christmas?
Are you lonely?
Do you need medicine to get through the day alive?
No. Mum – why are you asking all this stuff you already know?
No reason really, she said. Mildly. Just asking.
She changed the subject and after a bit we said goodbye.
My study was very silent when I hung up. Something was niggling me, like a bee buzzing. Then I nodded to myself. OK mum. Exactly what I needed. A good swift kick in the pants.
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