"What did the doctor say when you went back in for your test results, mum?" I asked. What followed was nothing short of a teen-aged sloth-like excuse-fest - an irritating unwillingness to get into any specifics (because it was clear she didn't ask for any and so had none to give) by umms...ehhhs...and a total disregard for my obvious concern over her concerning disregard. You see, I don't want her to die, ...just yet. And so I've become quite the little nurse nag and she usually finds a way to end the conversation quickly - she has to go answer the door. That's what it was today.

But she's not like that with everything. When she called me again an hour later, there was a definite curiosity in her voice - an almost urgent request: "How do I get rid of all these names that I don't know on my hotmail ...who is Cheruby Travatio? I don't even know this person!...and Lopey? Look ...another one.."

After politely asking her to stop reading me these ridiculous names, I explained what to do and said I'd take care of it the next time I see her. But I couldn't help myself, I had to add that I was impressed by how much care she put into cleaning out her contacts list and that perhaps she should pay the same close attention the next time her doctor says the word "CYST". That did not go well.

Since this conversation, I've pondered long and hard on why we - people in general - take such interest in the affairs of others, yet skim over some crucial details of our own existence. We memorize details about other's lives and meddle in their affairs, if they'll let us. We comment on it, to others. Yet we won't push for answers from our doctors or stick our necks out and ask the awkward questions, maybe because we assume that others are taking care of us. That they'll tell us what we need to know. I know my mother is like this. I'm sure there are others like her out there. This reminded me of the day of Michael Jackson's funeral in July 2009. I couldn't stop reading the CNN / Face book online live feed while the funeral procession was happening. The comments came from people of all walks of life, but what struck me was that people just needed to chime in. Like a bird chirping when he hears other birds chirping - I suspect that we have, for years, thought of this chirping as some kind of intelligent exchange. Necessary communication ...no chirp wasted. But now I think that some birds are actually just chirping because they want the others to remember that they are there and to not feel alone. They really have nothing to add to the "conversation" but just want to add their own sound to the collective sound of life. The CNN feed comments were just that, more birds landing on a branch and adding their "tweet"(pardon the pun). I saved some of my favourite feed comments and I sent them in an email to my friends that day:

--- On Tue, 7/7/09, < Shirley.Cuschieri @ xxx.com> wrote:
Subject: some comments from the Live Feed on CNN/Facebook

Hi guys, I couldn't help myself, the comments feed from Facebook /CNN was too hypnotizing...I copied a few of my favourites...
(from most recent to older ones) - watching CNN at work and listening in the background.
Live Feed from CNN/ Facebook online:

4 seconds ago - Chattanooga, TN

4 seconds ago - Inland Empire , CA

Brandy Jones Chandler who wears that to a funeral!
5 seconds ago - Bloomington , IN

Charmaar Khoon Oh.. Michael...
4 seconds ago - Thailand

9 seconds ago

Kei Dallmer Gee whiz, that casket is all sorts of shiny.
3 seconds ago - South Jersey , NJ

Louis Gonzales mike huckabee 2012!!

Amechi Frank Monagou Michael if you can come back to life i will be happy.

Daniel Bruegge OMG. Usher!? I thought he is also dead.

Brooke-Lynn Luat MJ is crashing the interweb again.
6 seconds ago - New York , NY

Bill Johnson would rather be watching Perez Hilton's memorial service.... is that bad?
7 seconds ago - New York , NY

Drljevic Nedim michael,michael,michael,michael,michael,michael,michael,michael,michael,.
9 seconds ago - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Jasmyne Jackson I know this is delayed, but its really starting to set in that he is really dead!
4 seconds ago - Atlanta , GA

Kim Cabany is glad to have stolen speakers at work to watch the memorial. worth it.
6 seconds ago - Nashville , TN

Latece Thomas damn dhis is messed up!

Mackenzie Fraser dont any of you have kids? disgusting.

Carene Nforbinson dey saw d weakness in dis man,tk adv of it n used t in bringing him down......i cant stop crying but he's in a betta place.
5 seconds ago

Spencer Storch likes michael...but all of this is REDICULOUS! where is the love for people like Mother Teresa and others who help the world be a better place!?

MoniCa BuSto when the casket of jackson being driven, it suddenly blackout hir at our place in the philippines ! how weird! :(.


Michael Robinson is feeling the Jacksons Should pay for all the expenses.
4 seconds ago - Miami , FL

Voka Stokes RIP Michael, it's a blessing that we are able to watch the service from home...... Technology is great.
2 seconds ago - Jacksonville , FL

Cathryn Marie CNN interviewed a girl who said she sold everything in her house to attend the memorial. 8 seconds ago - Houston , TX

Dan Tam @Denni Towle and Every body: Agree. June 26th is Michael Jackson Day!

Mcully Kulkin Ill miss you michael jordan .


June Zack may ALLAH BE WIT MJ..
4 seconds ago

Alvin Boyett I am going to ask for a sequened glove for christmas...
6 seconds ago - Gainesville , FL

Amanda Pearson come on get there already dang!!!!!!
2 seconds ago - Jacksonville , FL

Terricko Henderson Is it just me that thought that MJ would live forever...just because of who he was?
2 seconds ago - Virginia Beach / Norfolk , VA

Mackie Mac Fox news is still bashing the black man - even in death... sad isn't it.
5 seconds ago - New York , NY

Salwan Bazzi Chahine is watching the MJ Memorial at work! HOPE I DONT GET CAUGHT ;....(.
5 seconds ago - Detroit , MI

Whitney Jade Powell thinks you are a MORON if you think this should be a holiday from work... Maybe we should focus on IRAN .
9 seconds ago - Charlottesville , VA

Matt Smith is wondering if anyone else is watching the memorial service.
9 seconds ago - Charlotte , NC

4 seconds ago

Terri Breese Maybe he will pop out of the casket and dance.
2 seconds ago - Madison , WI

Cathy Bolden This is bigger than anything ever, Sinatra, Elvis, Lennon....you name it!
4 seconds ago - Kansas City , MO

Stephanie Stacey Nacionales Sanares could it be possible that MJ is not dead??

Barbara Beneroso michael come back!!!!!


I have also noticed that we are inherently optimistic and perhaps like to assume that everything will work out in the best possible way. My mother assumes that there will always be someone to catch something she dropped, to step in - just in time - if they found something she didn't want to deal with, mentally or physically. This is perhaps why she thinks it's so important to get married and have a bunch of kids - to distract me from what may become an avalanche of mental to-do lists. To enjoy the kind of existence she has - to not have to be right about everything because that can also be so terribly lonely ...and then I picture this one lone bird ...chirping up a storm and I can imagine that he'd probably lose the will to chirp, in time... or not put his heart into it if only one chirp came back every now and then. Chiming in makes it easier to forget what makes us old and tired and worried and serious. And mortal.

There was only one thing to do now - call my mother up and ask her who got voted off on America's Got Talent last night.
That's a conversation we would both definitely enjoy.

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