Life Views Via Death’s Dynamic Portal

Mom continues to resign from life. Each day I watch as she moves herself back a step further from the world, through decisions about no longer engaging in the wonder that is life’s constant change. She refuses technology that would keep her connected to her grandchildren, or allow her to watch the progression of a pregnancy of a loved one who lives far away.  She chooses to eat the same food profiles that are comfortable and familiar despite advancements in health or science. She has lost interest in current movies, trends, topics of the day, and voices her opinions based on a static loop of ancient information. In short, she has dug in her heels and is not budging on the idea of leaving a world that IS kind of carved in stone. The irony is, that all of this contributes to her ever diminishing happiness, and sense of isolation.

Please do not misunderstand, I admire her tenacity, and honor the right to make these choices. I get that these are memories and things that bring her comfort. Some of the recurring loops, may even be the result of TIA’s and Dementia. While I understand the power of the warm feeling that will always be present when I hear Earth, Wind, and Fire’s Fantasy, or think of Nancy Wasserman while eating Oreo cookies, I do not pretend to know what she feels like being 90, having lost so much physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, or  feel it has all gone by in the blink of an eye.

The irony is, that everyday as her witness convinces me more of wanting to embrace the limitations of aging that surely come, but with a new kind of positiveness. She inspires me to continue the exploration of ways I can keep my body flexible, my energy flowing, my mind, heart, and spirit open to all that life has to offer. I certainly have real concerns about our children, the earth, humanity, and general state of the world yet this in no way diminishes my desire to see what happens next. I believe in a world that has the capacity to  become more human not less, by learning from mis-takes, evolving and adapting.

While mom is my greatest teacher, I am also inspired by elders like Maya Angelou, Tommy George, and the legacy of Floyd Red Crow Westerman, who not only continue(d) to challenge themselves to learn, grow, become more open, tolerant, flexible, loving, kind, but are (were) willing to risk sharing their discoveries about aging with us rather than hiding away.

Somedays I feel sad that to continue to live the life of my dreams means, leaving her behind on some levels, to wallow in bemoaning a world that no longer exists. Continuing to abandon the misnomer of traitorous and ungrateful daughter requires daily diligence, and renaming the knowing that comes EXACTLY because of her particular way of being on this earth as she prepares to leave. It is precisely the fact that she has offered this gift, that forces me to look for ways to take steps forward toward creating a future of dying for myself, that I hope will be different from hers.

I enjoy the challenge of young people with radically different backgrounds and ideas from mine being part of my circle. Nothing makes me happier than knowing they have brought enriching new discoveries of music, poetry, struggles, technologies, and ideas while I have offered some small comfort or mentoring in exchange. While I can’t say for sure yet what the particulars of that path will look like, I do expect to work in partnership with people who hold similar values about positiveness and the worth of all human beings, in an inclusive multicultural environment that includes, opportunities for writing, teaching, public speaking, travel, physical activities, mentoring, learning, laughter, fun, friends, family, and love.

When I dare to look forward to my potential future at 90 and beyond, once past the fears about the unpredictability of human flesh, finances, or care, I see blazing bright eyes in a face that is still curious, compassionate, and interested in life. I hope I will approach my final journey with the same pragmatic enthusiasm that I have for travel now. There are bound to be discomforts, delays, inconveniences, along with treasures, discoveries, new understandings, and ultimately greater peace.

Until whatever is coming next arrives, thank you for being such patient and loving companions along the way. Blessed be.

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16 Responses to Life Views Via Death’s Dynamic Portal

  1. Amy Lapetina says:

    I love it, Beth, as always. I admire your continuously positive attitude about life.
    xxxxxx

  2. Karen says:

    Dearest Beth:
    Although it has been ages since we have connected, it feels like yesterday when I read your words and remember “who” you are.
    Your words have me thinking about dying and the process of “leaving/saying good bye/moving on to the next part of the journey (maybe??)” and I ponder this process in “living experiences”..i.e. saying goodbye to various parts of the journey of life. I would hope that I will experience the dying experience in the way that you write about your own but I do wonder, if i will experience this with fear or feelings of loss or sadness—in a way to make it less painful, less sad, less powerful….easier to say goodbye not making new memories to have to leave…without necessarily recognizing the pleasure that those new memories would give me as well.
    You have made me think of things that I would not have thought about before—hmmm–that’s not new:):)
    Thanks for sharing with all who have the honour to read your thoughts.
    Best always.
    Karen

    • Karen, How wonderful to hear from you. I hear wonderful things about you and the blessings of your family from time to time and hope you are all well. Thank you for sharing these questions/comments as they amplify the process tremendously. This is the best/hardest part of my travels so far. It is a privilege to have you share in them in some small way. Blessings and peace to you, Linda, and the kidlets, although Katie must be pretty much a grown woman by now. much love,Z

  3. Steve says:

    Keep on keeping on. This too, shall pass.
    XOXOXO

  4. Ann Russell says:

    Amen.

  5. Robert Vanderwaall says:

    Dear Beth, I always wait for some quiet time to read your posts. This one was very nicely done. I could have used many of your shared thoughts as both my parents were going through these same issues a few years ago.

    I returned home tonight at 11:00 PM from some singing at the VFW Post in Poteet TX with mostly old ranchers and farmers. I appreciate them and their passion for music and song. They get together for a few hours and forget about their problems and ailments. I always enjoy reading your thoughts, Beth. Good job, as always.

    • It is wonderful that you continue to be inspired by the people that you share your gifts with. I wonder, do you ever think about who you will be when you are them???? Thanks as always for taking quiet time for yourself and especially for sharing some of it with me. It means a lot to me that you do this when I know how busy you are with all your own creative pursuits. Sing on my friend. Sing on.

  6. Judy says:

    Beth, the same is happening with my parents as well. I find that much of the pull back is out of fear. When i asked my mother last summer to go with me and my sister to a family reunion her immediate response was “Oh i couldnt do that”. After a bit of questioning she was afraid of inconveniencing my sister and I, things like having to stop to go to the bathroom or getting up in the middle of the night. I explained that everyone over 40 has to get up to go to the bathroom! 🙂
    To your points – they also are eating the same foods and lost interest in things current. They are also very sedentary and cant walk from the car to the mall without assistance. Is this normal part of aging?

    Regads, Judy

    • Hi Judy, First, many thanks for bringing your experiences into the discussion, and for taking the time to read the blog. In answer to your question, “Is this a normal part of aging?” I can only venture a guess to say that I think it is an all too common response to aging. From my take on things, (and I hold dear the exceptions) we have to look harder to find the elders who are still open to life as in learning, trying new things, and continuing to grow. Once a week, I drive an 85 year old woman with Macular degeneration to do her errands. She has recently been experimenting with dietary changes that are most inspiring to me, she is still curious and involved and always willing to go somewhere, within the limitations of her energy and stamina. Then there are examples like Christopher Plummer, and Max Von Sidow taking huge risks to explore out of their comfort zone experiences through acting. There are examples of ordinary people who write books or get married at 100, because they believe there is still more that life offers right up to the last minute. These are my heroes, along with the elders mentioned in this blog who are teachers and activists to their last and final breath. I think those of us who experience parents in the “normal” category do well to explore extraordinary elder examples to chart a new course for ourselves and challenge the notion that ‘old’ is used up, or empty. I am hopeful that there are ways to keep aging with dignity while finding ways to remain juicy, and vital. At least that is my fantasy, and right now I am chasing it with all I am worth. Much love and compassion coming your way as we continue to unravel these mysteries together. Blessings and peace to you.

  7. Bob says:

    Hi Beth
    It’s been a long time since I read your blog. Reading your writing brings such pleasure it is hard to describe. You put so gracefully into words many of the same thoughts that I experienced watching as my parents completed their journey through life. You have been blessed with an experience that most of us never have. For some that is good and for others it would be a missed opportunity. I have watched you transition through many phases of personal growth along the way. You started out questioning your future and where life would lead. You have gotten to spend unanticipated time with your aging mother which is never easy but yet enlightening. You have managed to set and meet incredible goals as part of your personal growth. You have a new found love for good health and exercise that is enviable to say the least. You have become a blog master with a little help from your friends.
    The other elders that you admire for their passion for living may or may not have lived their entire lives that way but something sparked that passion somewhere along the way. Watching you grow over the past couple of years makes me believe you have acquired that spark to live life to the fullest. Continue to discover and seek out answers and share what you learn along the way…that we all will grow older and wiser and use technology to keep the sparks flying as we chase our dreams together…though we are separated by miles. I’ll be thinking about you as always on your journey. Beautiful writing as always!
    Peace Beth
    Bob

    • Bob, I had to read your comments three times before I could really take in your words fully. Then I read them again, this time to my mom. Your encouragement and acknowledgement has put a giant smile on my face. The process of continuing to express myself rather than giving in to fear or worse is at times daunting, but your words … well … it feels like winning an Oscar! Thank you dear friend, as you know, there would be no middlescapes if not for the generosity of your time in service to it’s technical development. Oh, and I will be attending Blogworld in NYC in June, which I am very excited about. I can’t think of a better prayer for the future than “keep the sparks flying as we chase our dreams together” you are and always will be a rock star to me. much love and thanks for this wonderful feedback and affirmation. Blessings to you Brother Bob. May the force be with you. z

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