My mother was a worrier. When we were coming home from a trip and I was driving, she would say, "I wonder if there will be a parking space near the house." If a neighbor had a leaky pipe in their home, she wanted to call the plumber to have him check our house before we got a leak.
Any little noise that our car made had to mean a major repair job in Mom's eyes. And, her first reaction to any illness was that it was probably serious, would lead to something much worse, and would entail a huge doctor bill.
When Mom got on a plane, she said "Goodbye" as if it would be the last time she would see me. And, when I chauffeured her around in my car, she had white knuckles gripping the armrest. If anyone she loved was going on a trip, she could not rest until their travels had ended safely.
After living with Mom for many years, I grew accustomed to her worrying. I learned to ignore a lot of it. I also pooh-poohed much of what she said out loud. And, I knew that for every worry she spoke aloud, there were ten or twenty more that preyed silently on her mind. I swore that I would not end up worrying like my Mom. I would be more like my Dad, who took life as he found it and seemed to be so well-balanced that he seldom if ever worried.
Guess what? I did not succeed. Ask my husband. He will tell you that he calls me "Little Daudie," because I have become my mother. Even though I realize that many of my worries are foolish, it is virtually impossible for me to stop. And, as I get older, the habit seems to be getting worse. I worry about getting into auto accidents. I worry about planes crashing. I worry about having enough food when I entertain. I worry about getting all of my volunteer jobs completed on time. I worry about losing my sight. I worry about hurricanes and tornadoes. I worry about my grandchildren growing up in a crazy world. I worry …. and worry … and …. well, I worry.
When my grandson Conor started kindergarten, I read him a book called "Wemberly Worried." I had read that same book to a bunch of kids at the library and they loved it. I thought it would help Conor make the transition from home to school.
The story is about a small mouse who is starting school and is worried about it. She worries about whether her teacher will be nice, whether her clothes will be appropriate, whether she will like the snacks, whether the kids will tease her because she wants to take her stuffed animal to school. In other words, Wemberly worried about everything.
After I finished reading, I asked Conor if he was worried about going to school. He said, "Yes." I asked him why. He said, "Because I will miss Mommy and I won't know anybody." I spent some time telling him that everything would be fine and that he would make friends. I told him that Mommy would be waiting for him outside his classroom at the end of the day.
As I heard myself reassuring my grandson, I wondered why I couldn't reassure myself about my worries as easily.
Of course, Conor loves school. He has made friends and loves his teachers. All is well. And me? I try hard every day NOT to worry and let life unfold. When you're almost 72 years old, it's not an easy task. As we get older, we recognize all that can go wrong. Our experiences have taught us that life is not easy.
Do I worry so much that it debilitates me? No. I still fly and drive and invite folks to dinner. I use my eyes hard. I know that hurricanes and tornadoes can't be controlled and they shouldn't be a constant source of worry. I know that my grandchildren have wonderful parents who make sure that they are safe and happy.
But, somewhere inside me, there is a kernel of worry that can sometimes pop into a full-blown mind-tangling event. Sometimes I just need a grandma to read me a story and soothe my worrywart soul.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.