There are roughly seventy thousand people in Sault Ste. Marie, and my mother seemed to know every single one of them growing up. Each trip to the mall took for-EVER. Stopping to talk to her third grade teacher, then someone my uncle dated in high school, then someone who used to work at the restaurant she worked at.
Seriously. All of the time, stopping and talking to people. It drove me absolutely crazy.
It’s something I still bug her about to this day. In fact, I relished in touring her around Nipissing University on the day of my convocation. At that time, our roles were reversed. It was me stopping to talk to a person I had a history class with, someone I met at a hockey game, a former student and their partner. A big flip-switch-reverse I pulled on my mom.
Now I kind of get why she did it though. The more I look back on why my mom would and still does always stop, it makes more sense. People love to feel connected.*
*Editorial note: I’m 24 and 5/6ths. I’m not a wise old man. I have no idea what the meaning of life is, what I’m even doing, or how to properly calculate my taxes. This is just something I’ve picked up on.
She always remembers the details. She remembers kids names and even birthdays. My mom remembers jobs, passions, interests. Everything. And it could just be a northern Ontario thing to do, but she makes people feel important. Needed. Welcomed.
Isn’t that what we all want? It’s why a simple smile can make someone’s day, as opposed to walking around with a frown in desperate need of being turned upside-down. Why we should ask “how’s it going,” and actually want to give a crap how it IS going. It’s why it can feel somewhat devastating to be alone, but can be turned around when you feel that connection with someone.
The human connection is what we can all work towards. It’s a smile, a wave, a conversation. It’s holding the damn door.
I have days where I’m miserable too because surprise, I’m a human being and not a vertically-challenged, pun-spewing robot. When I do, a simple connection with another person through any of those means can start to turn that day around.
My mom, to this day, tells me to go “be brilliant.” I used to believe that was about being smart. It’s not, really. It’s about being a person that can brighten the days of others, just like she does.
So the message, if I have one, is this: Wave at a neighbour. Make a funny face at a baby. Tell your friend their hair looks nice. Call your grandparents. In the end, it’s all about the connections we make that make us feel like humans.
Oh, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a momma’s boy. And my mom can so beat up your mom.