My 89-year-old mother’s interest in people is as keen as ever. I’m guessing those who care about others live longer. If they don’t, their lives, whatever the length, are fuller.
My Mom looks at a trip to the dentist as a chance to catch up with Linda, her hygienist. I've long heard stories about Linda, who earned her degree at night and married, happily, later in life. I knew Linda’s neighborhood retained power during Superstorm Sandy, and she invited relatives from far and wide to share her home.
During a recent visit to New Jersey, I chauffeured my mother to appointments and errands and was able to meet and re-meet people about whom my mom is full of anecdotes and high praise. Linda claims my mother is her favorite patient, and their mutual-admiration society is something to see.
At the cardiologist’s office, my mother introduces me to Shannon, her favorite technician. My mom’s also very fond of Erin and every other technician in the place.
Even a correct and businesslike eye doctor can’t hold out against my mother’s interest. He tells her his daughter recently won a Rockefeller Grant. A Rockefeller Grant! My mom is thrilled.
My mom’s hairdresser, who was born in Korea, treats my mother as tenderly as she’d treat her own. In exchange, my mother, as a stand-in for Sarah's far-away parents, praises her business skills and work ethic.
I don’t know about you, but in my day-to-day life, I rush through errands and obligations and rarely make time to connect with shopkeepers, cashiers, and caregivers. The week I spent ferrying my mother to appointments showed me that asking after others enriches the asker.
Next time I see my dental hygienist, I want details about her daughter's last trip to the Philippines.