“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