Time, generations… this journey of life just keeps moving along whether we want it to or not. A couple of months ago I began a blog after having a joint birthday party for my mother who turned 95 and my son who turned 26. Both their birthdays are in February. It got me thinking about my mom being at the end of her life and my son at the beginning of his adult life. I never got very far in writing when I had another birthday party for my son’s daughter who turned 2 in March. She was just beginning her life’s journey. Then my birthday was coming along right behind, on March 26th. I never finished writing that first blog about birthdays, about life, about this journey, because I ended up burying my mother on my birthday.
My mother had been declining in various ways over the course of a few months, but still maintained a lot of her independence, with some support systems in place. It was very hard for me to watch. The worst part was realizing she had lost cognitive function. It was very stressful, but once I came to grips with how things were, I accepted that and was ready for almost anything. Or so I thought. Eventually my mom was in Hospice care while still living in her own apartment. And that was my goal for her, to stay in her apartment. She wound up spending her last 10 days of life at the Hospice Care Center. My brother and I were with her much of the time, although after the first 2-3 days she appeared unaware of her surroundings or of us, with minimal responses to anything except discomfort.
I watched my mom slip away day by day, amazed that her already frail body could hang onto life that long without any nourishment or hydration. She was always a stubborn, strong-willed person and I guess that kept her going as long as she did. When the Hospice Center called us at 4:00 am on that Sunday to tell us she was gone, we went over there and they had her bathed, had her in a nice nightgown and lying there holding her birthday teddy bear that she had held onto the previous week. We were there to say good bye, but I felt that I had shed my tears and had already said my good byes the whole week. Now it was over.
Now I am an orphan. It feels strange. Now I am the oldest generation in my part of the family. I have 2 grand babies who think life is all about being happy and having fun and feeling secure, with the world there for them to explore and learn from. I have 2 adult children 26 and 28, who are at the beginning of their adult lives and already have experienced some of the hardships, the consequences of choices, the good, the bad and are still in the process of figuring out what it means to be a human being. And then there is me. I have already been 2 years old, and I have been 26 and 28 struggling to find my way in the world. I have been 40, and 50. I became a middle aged adult who still struggled and eventually came to grips with the consequences of my choices, and the ability to be accountable. I finally realized it wasn’t so hard to change and that can be a good thing. There is that great old song sung by Rod Stewart with the lyrics in the chorus:” I wish - that - I knew what I know now, when I was younger…”
Now, how can I make my life meaningful? I am at a place in my life’s journey where I look back on bad decisions, wasted time, and yet, all that contributed to who I am today. Those are things that are impossible to figure out, what if….So I do not look back at those kinds of things much, but really try to look forward so I can make this last part of my passage on this life journey a good one. I seem to have longevity genes in my family, so I figure I better take care of this mortal body so I can do the best I can for the rest of my life. “ All there is to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.” (Gandalf)