Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Road To Hell

There's an old saying: "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." I've never understood it. If my understanding of Hell is correct, and after 13 years of catholic school, I think it is, then a person whose actions come from a good place would not go to hell, no matter how bad the result.

But tonight I was looking back on certain events in my life, times when I did a kindness for someone and they responded negatively. Like when I lent a friend money and she started to resent me. That type of thing. Or when, years ago, my mother was dying in the hospital and I took it upon myself to call her friends and tell them. Some of them were estranged, but I felt they would want to know.

I was all alone in my childhood home, after a day at the hospital watching my mother unconscious and bloated. I was a wreck, but I went through her phone book and spent about two hours calling everyone I thought would care, stopping in between to cry.

Some of the people cried, a few didn't seem to care. The hardest was an old family friend who was always joking and seemed hard as nails to me. She had known my mother for over fifty years, they met coming over on the boat from Germany in 1954. She wept so pitifully when I told her. It broke my heart. We cried together. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

Well, flash forward, my mother had a miraculous recovery! Despite getting the Last Rites TWICE! (I've been calling her my Miracle Baby ever since) Was she grateful for what I did during that terrible time? Try to guess. She had no memory of the hours I spent at the hospital, which is fine. But get this, she told me, several times in fact, that she was EMBARRASSED that I had called her friends. And might I add that, because of my phone call, one of her estranged friends got in touch with her and their friendship was renewed! That would never have happened otherwise.

I realize now that old saying doesn't mean the person with good intentions will go to Hell, but that doing good or "meaning well" will often get you a slap in the face. You'll end up in your own personal Hell. Maybe everyone knows that, but I just figured it out.

I've been thinking about this because my mother is sick again. This time, though, I think it's for real and not a dress rehearsal. I mean she's 89! And she's in very bad shape. She had the Last Rites again today. They call it "Anointing of the Sick" or something now. I am so sad. I can't believe I won't ever talk to her again. Even if it's to hear that I embarrassed her. I'm supposed to perform two stand-up shows this weekend in Boston, I haven't performed in ages and I'm crying daily. It's going to be interesting. But who knows? Tomorrow I might get the call and have to cancel my trip to go to a funeral. Or maybe I'll hear she's had another miracle! Well, we'll see. Never a dull moment in SanFranita-ville.

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