If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes all 10 of Rita Parlin’s children to wrangle our mom.
At 88, Mom is living on her own, weeding her garden, mowing her lawn, and driving to church. She’s actually pretty amazing.
But she doesn’t drive at night anymore. She doesn’t drive out of town anymore. And she doesn’t drive in bad weather.
We’ve got her on the computer with both email and Facebook, but the computer wouldn’t function at all for her if my brother Kevin didn’t fix it remotely just about every week. That way, she doesn’t have to understand what went wrong — she just has to be able to call Kevin. She doesn’t even have to call Kevin as he calls her most days.
I call her every day, too. Because I can.
When I worked, I called her a couple of times a week. But I had to wait until I got home from work. She ate early and I ate late so sometimes our schedules didn’t line up too well, especially when I worked at night.
Once I retired, I started calling her during the day. And then I started calling her every day.
Now, when someone is trying to reach Mom and they can’t, they call me because everybody knows I am the Mom Wrangler. My brother Jim, who lives in town with Mom, once called because he couldn’t reach her. I had to hang up on Mom to take Jim’s call so I could tell him she was home.
Tonight, it was Peggy calling from St. Cloud. She often calls Mom on Sundays and there was no one answering the phone. It was after dark so Peggy was worried about where she might be.
“She’s at Jim’s, celebrating Christmas with his family,” I told her. “They picked her up and they will take her home.”
I am also the family communicator — not surprising with my reporter background — so I am in charge of the family emails to coordinate family gatherings. That’s beyond Mom’s email skills and is easy for someone who dealt with emails every day at work. It’s one of the few computer-related things at which I excel.
Jim is the only sibling in town so he gets Mom to the doctor, checks in on her, and attended Mass with her this last week on the anniversary of Dad’s death.
My youngest brother Tim got her on an airplane and took her to Ireland, something she never even dreamed of doing, and they even encountered a distant relative while there.
It really does take all of us to make sure Mom has the life Dad would have wanted her to have in his absence. And we’re happy to do it.
So whether you are the wrangler or the one being wrangled, I hope you are all together this holiday season. Mom and all 10 of her children will be celebrating together this year and she will even get together with her own siblings.
That’s what I call a great holiday.