Simple Tasks

The first time I noticed the the anvil-heavy weight in my chest had lightened was when I was standing at the stove stirring gravy.

Slowly move the spoon back and forth, back and forth, then once around the pan, resume back and forth, back and forth and again around the rim.  Suddenly I realized that my mind had slipped into the past and I was thinking of Mom and smiling.

Both as a child and as an adult, I spent countless moments at her stove, stirring and stirring.

My job was to stir the gravy; hers was to say to me, “Is it getting thick?  Don’t let it stick and be sure to get the corners (in a round pan!).”  Then she’d say, “Here, let me feel.  Okay, I think it’s about ready.  You know, honey, the secret to good gravy is in the stirring.”

Without fail, I felt proud.

The second instance when I recently tuned into a lack of heaviness was while I ironed a shirt.  Let’s be honest.  I inherited a tremendous dislike for ironing from my mom.  So what was the deal?  As with the gravy stirring, I found myself smiling and actually enjoying the task.

Here’s what I’ve determined:  Without my permission, both activities allowed my mind to release all the stress of the last year and especially the last few weeks since Mom’s death.  I was completely present to the acts of stirring gravy and ironing.

The awareness brought an understanding that at least for now, my grief needs to be tended by simple tasks, preferably one at a time.  After the realization, I was able to sit at my desk and complete several routine items that I’d been unable to process because I was trying to do them all at once. 

Until that afternoon, the heavy grief prevented me from concentrating on anything for more than a few minutes.  This from the life-long, Type A, multi-tasking, go-go-go, check-it-off-the-list me.  I’ve spent a lifetime chopping my brain into singularly-focused segments and then expecting all the segments to sing in three-part harmony.

I can’t operate that way anymore.  I keep trying and grief holds me back.  I seem to mentally shut down when something becomes overly complicated.  And that’s just the way it is, for now.

Funny how B Here Today has taken on a new meaning.  I’m sure that at some point in the future I’ll be back to my old juggling self, but these days find me focused on one simple thing at a time.

I think Mom would approve.

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2 Comments

  1. Diana says:

    WOW … what a fantastic story! Yes … she would be proud! Focus is not a bad thing … go with the flow, cuz! LOVE YOU!!! D

  2. K says:

    Beth,
    I understand your grief. I still miss my Dad and it has been 11 years. Time will make it better – I promise. I know that right now the fog of grief that clouds your brain makes it hard to do the routine let alone be productive. You and your Mother are often in my prayers.
    Take care,
    Karen Wisch

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