One of the ideas of Henri Nouwen is that as we age, we become again like children. When we are in the womb, we are totally dependent upon our mother’s uterus for nourishment, warmth and protection. When we are born, we are again, totally dependent upon our mother’s to take care of us. Except for oxygen; we can now breath on our own. As babies, we gain a little more independence every month, every day; so little we do not realize it at first. I’ve watched my son beam with satisfaction as he does more and more on his own. I’ll never forget when he got himself to free-stand on a footstool…. Beaming! I am the proud dragonmommie! What I did not realize after becoming a mom is that they must LEARN everything we, as adults, take for granted. We do not remember what an accomplishment it was to first successfully use a straw, or when we first stood up and let GO. My son’s eyes tell me everything. “Look what I can do!” “I am so happy!”
As life moves on, we learn to do more and more things, we take on responsibility, we make decisions for ourselves. Again, we as parents, do not see it coming. It was only yesterday that he was a little baby, cuddling in our arms. BTW, little drake has stopped the cuddling, unless he is tired. He squirms until he is down on the floor. (tonight, he was overtired because of missing his nap and he fell asleep on my belly!) His most recent accomplishment is sliding himself off the bed by himself (big beams), and climbing onto the couch by himself (bigger beams).
As we get old, our ability for independence is slowly striped from us. Our vision, hearing, legs are not what they used to be. Our hands get stiff and ache with pain on cold mornings. All these little things add up; but we adjust. We start to do things differently to make up for lost energy and endurance. Eventually, we might find ourselves in a position of being dependent upon our children, otherwise known as role reversal. Imagine how this might feel to both, the parent and the child. One issue the parent is faced with are more and more frequent thoughts of their own mortality, and all that goes with it; the child is faced with all the same reasons.
I have never been an individual of substantial means. I have always never been good with managing my money. I never really saw a future for myself, so my focus was on the wants/needs of the present and not of the future. When my sister had kids, I became the godmother of the first one. I often lamented over the fact that I had nothing to give them or to leave them, thinking in terms of money. So, I was generous with my time and talents, whenever I could be. My time has always been very important to me, so I gave them my time when needed. I realize that as we get older, our time is more and more sacred, more important; and for good reason. The older we get, the scarcer our time becomes. Funny, our time here gets whittled away by, of all things, TIME.
The items of value that we can leave our loved ones as our legacy, are our thoughts, our opinions, our beliefs, our being, our soul. I have resolved to do this through letters, speeches and an openness to discuss anything they want me to. We can never hesitate to fill a need as we see them. We see them all the time; and it’s a decision we make to either ignore it or take action. This is living well, in preparation for our death. We must strive to create valuable memories for our loved ones because that is what they will remember. We can then die well and be at peace, knowing that we have done our best. Not like those who are thinking that there is something left to do. With thoughts like this, how can we possibly relax enough to accept moving on and out of this world?
Dying well. As stated earlier, the elderly become dependent upon caregivers, mostly family. We must let go of the instinct of doing for ourselves and trust others to do for us. At this point, I must apologize for not having the above mentioned book to refer to. My words are not good enough to express what I want, mostly because I have lost touch with the subject matter. Though my mother is passed, my dad has remarried, so I am not personally involved with the elderly. My mother in law is in her 80’s and fiercely independent. She recently had to fight to get her driver’s license and regardless of whether she actually drives or not, it was very important for her to get it. In actuality, she doesn’t drive all that much; and if she does, it’s during the time of day when the traffic is lower and it’s light out. She only drives locally for food, post office, and the bank.
I am sorry if I am spouting off fragmented thoughts, but I am hoping that something will make sense. I guess it’s for this reason that I probably will never make a “publishable” writer.