When I visit my mother’s apartment, she likes to introduce me to her friends and neighbors. You can tell that she boasts about my brothers and me. They always smile, reach out for my hand to hold it in theirs, and ask which son I am: the one that lives ten minutes away; the one in Florida; or the baby.
I shake their hand and say how it’s nice to meet them. They always tell me how wonderful my mother is and how she helps them. My mother spent years first mothering us kids and then another lifetime taking care of our father after his heart attack. For her, caregiving comes second nature. It’s in her blood.
During my last visit, one woman talked about how my mom always drives her to doctor appointments and even occasionally to the market. No surprise there. My mom would give you the shirt off her back if she thought you needed it.
And then there’s me
While comforting, I always leave her apartment wondering what people will say about me when I’m the same age as my mother. I’m my mother’s son, but I’ve got nothing on her. She helps people; I tend to run away from people.
When I’m 70 or 80 years old, my neighbors will run up to my children and, instead of telling them how helpful I am, they’re going to ask who that quiet man is in the corner?
I’m a natural introvert. I hate useless small talk. I’m bad at it, but what’s worse I just don’t have patience for it. I find that as I get older, I’m even more guarded.
I sound like a real jerk. I’m really not that awful. If we’re friends or even acquaintances, I’ll open up and talk your head off like the office chatterbox or a chatty salesman. I just stink at the normal chit-chat that we all inevitably turn to in networking events or other situations throughout the normal course of a day.
A place for everyone
I make fun of myself, but I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s just the way things are. Some people get energized from being around other people, others like myself, would much rather spend a portion of each day in planning and thinking. Some people love the spotlight, others runaway from it.
In the end, to each his own. I would much rather be true to myself than waste my time trying to be something I’m not.
So the next time you see an old guy who looks like a little like me, hanging in the corner, be sure to wave. I may be introvert, but I still have feelings.