Oh so many years ago, my college roommate and I were having one of those deep discussions about life when she made the comment that I had a great ability to see things from all points of view. I considered it a compliment and buried it in my mind as something I should work to improve.

Fast forward a bunch of years to a conversation with my mother. I had grown children by this time and we were discussing something that had happened many years ago. I told the story and she said, “that’s not how it happened at all.” I sat stunned because I knew I remembered it correctly, but she told me her version. In an eye opening flash, I realized that both our versions were true – to us at least. That moment has stayed with me ever since as I live and observe my family and friends.

I adored my mother, most of the time. She had the annoying habit of always wanting to be right. Even more annoying to me was that she was right even when I didn’t want her to be. She had a lot of common sense and strong opinions, while I was more inclined to be a peacemaker in the family and avoid arguments. I identified more with my father when I was young, often because my mother always considered him the most wonderful man in the world. And, I was a lot like him in personality, not the wonderful part.

Through the years, I grew more like my mother in some ways and she mellowed in her opinions. Some of the most enlightening times were when I went to her as an adult with serious issues and she absolutely understood and supported me, even when I would have thought it contradicted everything I thought she believed. She would relate a story from her life that corresponded and let me know that had been there or seen this before. We grew closer as we both got older through our serious talks.

My Mommy was the most fun, always ready to go anywhere, always laughing with us. We did everything from driving around town to see what was new to traveling to foreign cities. She taught me to never turn down an invitation and to see everything you could wherever you were. She grew up poor during the depression and wasn’t able to go to college but was one of the most educated people I have known. She read and talked to people and never quit learning.

But, with all her wonderfulness, we had our moments when I gritted my teeth and was so mad at her. I stood my ground when I needed to and quietly let her think I was doing it her way when it worked. I was a teenaged girl with an all knowing mother when I really didn’t want to be understood. I wanted to be me, not her. Why didn’t she get that? As an adult, I tolerated her desire to be constantly in my life, showing up at my house unexpectedly whenever. Gad! So annoying. So annoying to be loved when I just wanted to be mad.

Back to my original point, I think about all of these things a lot as I watch my own grown children with their getting to be adult children. And, of course, I try to see it within the full circle. To say I get my mother now more than ever is an understatement.

In the past few weeks, several of my friends have mentioned that their grown children aren’t speaking to them and they are trying to understand what happened. I think about how our stories are true to ourselves, even when someone else’s version differs greatly. The different versions are due to being different ages when whatever happened, plus distorted by personality. Stories that are similar are those that have been shared, so siblings may remember it one way because they talked about it without the parent’s version. Stories that are shared with the whole family become family lore with everyone on the same page.

I listen to my friends who have shared with me over the years and can’t pinpoint what would cause a rift. But, I only know their version. As one said, “We did plenty of eye rolls with our parents.” Yes, we did. I see the eye rolls all the time with my own and try to absorb it as my mother did. What else can you do?

So, now I’m in the last part of my life, which could end anywhere from now to twenty or thirty years from now. Who knows? I also know I could outlive some of my children and grandchildren because I’ve already outlived my son. I think of my mother who was a stay at home mother back when everyone was and then found herself with the empty nest and an estranged child and then alone, wanting nothing more than to share whatever moments and memories she could with her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We rolled our eyes and were annoyed and did include her as much as we wanted to, which could not possibly have been as much as she wanted to be with us. I knew and had my selfish moments that I’m not proud of, even when I knew what she needed.

We love our children and try to at least give them things that are funny to do the eye rolls about and cherish the moments they share their lives with us without thinking about it because they want us there. I love the sharing on social media where I can see my friends’ families and their memories. I am also very aware of my friends who don’t have family moments to share and live with heartbreak. I also know there can be sadness behind even the happiest published photos. Life is…life.

My mother would get all of this, just as I get where she was in her last years. She knew I never meant to hurt her feelings and lived for what time she had with us. She loved all of us through the good times and the difficult ones because she got to share all of it.

In the end, the versions of the stories make it hard when you don’t try to see the other side and time goes by way too quickly and then it’s over. Life truly is short. Hopefully, loving memories prevail and time is not wasted and lives are shared for as long as possible with greater understanding as we each stand in the other’s shoes.

The greatest story to share in life is love.