a life well lived

Saturday, July 12, 2014

TAJ II 07/12/00

“Why do we have a concept of aging as leaving one static, when really the  growth keeps right on going, maybe right out of the ceilings of our cramped  opinion?”

“As I write this I say to myself, ‘Thank you, Lord, for letting me live long  enough to enjoy the wonders of the magic of e-mail.’”

Both of these snippets, from replies to my last e-mail, boosted my confidence.

Just as little children often think of their 30-year old parents as really  old, not-so-young people can tend to think of their older parents as sort of  shutting down as we age, gong into some sort of hibernation  This old biddy  believes that the Lord intended us to fully live - whatever our physical or  mental condition - right up to the moment we traipse across the threshold of  our spiritual home.

One of our greatest challenges as spiritual beings having a natural  experience is the natural tendency to think in earthly ways.  There is a lot  about aging that is hard to grasp.  Why do people have to go through the  heartache of having our bodies break down?  Why do people, including my  mother, have to go through memory loss and disconnection with the present?  Why do people have to experience changing roles and shifting sense of  identity?

I do not have many thoughts on the first two, although I do believe that both  are related to helping us human beings shift away from thinking from our body  to thinking from our spirit, but the last has become dear to my heart.

As I wrote yesterday, my own children are all old enough to be grandparents.  That thought stopped me in my tracks.  It also made me realize how liberated  I am - there is not much that I can offer to "parent" them at this point.   

Parenting was a defining role for me, along with being a wife.

When Pete preceded me over 25 years ago, parenting was the only familiar  role I had left and I clung to it.   My health allowed me to make seven trips  to Australia between the 65 and my early 80s, all of them lasting several  months.  I loved those trips and the opportunity to be Mum and Nan to my  children and grandchildren.  When Kerry got home from work, there would be a  hot cuppa waiting for her.  I could be a sounding board for my son, Mike.  It  was wonderful to do things with and for Scott and Karen.  I was in my  element. 

Back in the USA, I hope our homes – whether on Alden Road, Cherry Lane or Woodland -  were havens for my family.  We often had prolonged visits from Peter and Mim, which made my mother's  heart glad.  Even after I moved in with John and Elsa within a year of their  marriage, it did my heart good to have my other children stop by for  visits, overnights, and longer stays.  It helped me know that I was being  truly useful because I was doing for others.

My big challenge was sparing the time and energy to think and act for  ME.  The past few years have seen tremendous strides in this department.

It might have been more difficult to see the "up" side of my September 1999  stroke and severely arthritic right shoulder if I had not already started the journey toward more personal awareness.

My body tells me every day that it is only temporary.  It is breaking down.   That is in the order of things, however rotten it is to experience.  I take  two strong pain pills a day and I have wonderful doctors.  I live in a  supportive household with two "youngsters" who love me and lots of stuff  animals for comforting hugs.  I have a daughter who brow beats and badgers me  to think for myself. 

I, too, offer up thanks for the blessings of e-mail,  which allows my thoughts to go with miraculous speed even though my body is  relatively confined to the big chair in the living room.

This time last year,  I enjoyed taking a walk around the block;  now, I content myself with a  stroll around the kitchen island.  I cannot get up out of bed unaided  because of my shoulder, which means many calls throughout the night to John  and Elsa to help me get up to visit "Lamb" (my commode, so named because at  one point it followed me wherever I went).  Until my stroke, Elsa could call  from work after a rough day and ask me to make dinner - no more.  I took  pride in cleaning up after supper - now John does.  But I can still shell  hard boiled eggs and clean mushrooms!

Changing roles and changing identities can be rough on everyone.  It can  upset  children, on many levels, to find that good old Mom is not what she  used to be.  I consider my relationship with my children one of my greatest  achievements, although I might not have thought so a few years back.  Each  one of them has an independent life and life view.  If they want to seek my  company or stay in contact, that makes me happy.  If they are, for any  reason, uncomfortable around me, then it is better that they be true to that  feeling than hang around out of a sentimental sense of duty.  I am proud that  my children are strong enough to think and act for themselves and that they  see me as a person rather than just their mother.

I thank the Lord that I am still mentally and physically strong enough to  think about these matters.  I thank all of my friends for letting this old  biddy ramble on with my thoughts on life's evolutions.  You bless my life -  Kay 

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