For Mother’s Day in 2010, my mom requested that each of her children (we are all adults now) send an email update every week, copying each other. I titled my first email “PFM Reports,” a preview issue sent May 3, 2010. I’ve sent an update every week since then.
It’s fun and quite easy to write an update when I’m on the road. For instance:
January 3, 2011, Agra, India:
(Side story: years and years ago my mom, my older sister and I were driving through New Hampshire as part of a college visit trip. It was late at night, we had just missed our exit, my mom tried to pick up our moods by suggesting a game of 20 Questions. We weren’t in the mood, but my mom had picked something and told us to start asking questions. Our first question was “Is it the Taj Mahal?” It was. After some silence, we all laughed. Maybe just two of us laughed. I forget.)
It’s not easy, but sometimes in my updates I shared my fears.
June 29, 2010, Boston, house sitting for a couple with a lot of orchids:
I skipped breakfast to research orchid blossoms. I found out that the flowers last for months, but like all flowers the flowers do die and in the case of orchids, they tend to fall off all at once - rather dramatically in my opinion. The problem is I don’t know if this orchid has been flowering for months and this is a natural death or if I killed it. The other orchids are now on round the clock observation.
Perhaps I’m a braggart, but I also shared how generous I can be.
May 3, 2010, Las Vegas:
Yesterday I had breakfast on the patio of the Paris hotel. I did this purely as research for this September’s sibling get together, because that’s just who I am. I may do more “research” when finals are over. Would you guys prefer to get a monthly statement of expenses, or should I just include my research in one lump “resort fee”?
Joking aside though, when you have to put in writing what you did that week, it makes you think. Thoreau had the right question; did I live life deliberately? (I wish quotable quotes didn’t feel so trite.)
I’ve lived in quite a few cities as an adult and before moving, in a panic I would make a list of all the things I should have done. In the last weeks (and sometimes days) before moving, I would race through my checklist of things to do and see. For example, I lived in Boston for years, but it wasn’t until I was moving that I made it to a Celtics game (in the Boston Garden).
When my mom made the request for weekly emails, I grudgingly sent my first update. Now that I have to account for my week, my decisions are more deliberate. I still love to watch TV, but that doesn’t make for a very interesting update, so I go to the theater more often. But I also try to do something new. That’s how I became a Timbers fan, I decided to go to a soccer game and discovered that I liked it. Sometimes it’s as simple as walking home rather than taking the bus because it’s a beautiful day (if you include pictures, you don’t have to say nearly as much to make the weekly update seem interesting). And sometimes it’s a recipe.
I find that I make more of an effort, because I have to declare it.
It’s interesting to see what we put in writing each week. Some of us live in the same town; a couple of us have a thousand miles separating us. And we talk to each other, almost daily (for my sisters it might be hourly). Yet, each week we send our stories.