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.