Coming to the end…. from Gayle

Yes, getting to the end of things… the end of the year, the end of my visit (just completed) to my mom in Phoenix, the end of this evening (I should be getting ready for bed instead of being here… ah well), the very recent end of the shortest days of the year… and with all that new beginnings.  But don’t shortchange the poignancy of the “end” of things.  Take the time to appreciate the fleetingness of all things, the opportunity to practice letting go, to be with times of transition and all their (our own)  hope for the future and discomfort at what is lost, or being lost.

So, yeah, I’m waxing poetic, but darn, I don’t have a poem to share.  I looked for a poem, but couldn’t find the right one.  Well, actually I think I did find the right one.  A poem I really love by my friend Jim.  But I need to write him and ask permission.  So, if he gives permission, I promise to share it here with you, soon.  It’s an extraordinary poem about growing old, and ALL that that means.

I just got back from visiting my 91 year old mom, who is in extraordinary shape — for her age.  Her mind is great.  Her body is slowing down, but still  mostly works, minus a little sense of balance and strength.  My dad died 2 1/2 years ago, and she’s been living alone since then.  We spent this last week looking at places where “active seniors” can move to be with other people, have more activities, more community, share meals together (without having to cook their own, and shop for them).  We visited 3 different “campuses” of “independent, active” living communities — which were different in terms of class (middle vs upper middle) and religious (secular vs christian).  The apartments, the food, the grounds, the activities, the sense of community and friendliness of the people, and more, all needed to be taken into account, not to mention the cost.  It was slightly dizzying.  We were on a steep learning curve as it seems the move may be imminent, not because she Has To, but because it’s seeming like it might be the “right” thing to do.  Sometimes I felt optimistic; sometimes I could feel my heart breaking.  Was it empathy or some degree of unhealthy merging?  Guilt?  Oy!  So many feelings.  My own sense of loss!  The family home the site of So Many family gatherings and family memorabilia for the last 35 years.  My mom was/is a trooper, and for the most part hid her pain at her impending loss bravely, perhaps stoically.  Of course, with the end of living in this home, full of the memories of her beloved husband and family, there will also be the beginning of living in a place that just might fulfill the needs she currently has for companionship, friendships, all kinds of activities she can’t and/or doesn’t do at home.

While I find all the stages of life, including old age and death  compelling, fascinating, etc. my mom is not one to enjoy a conversation about aging and death.  We met with and talked with so many elders, some whom my mother recognized from 60 years ago.   I wondered at their courage too, and wondered about their life stories.  Mostly they talked about how much they loved living in these “independent” communities, and how they hoped my mom would join them.

I want there to be a poem  to share with you.   My heart is aching, and breaking, and thrumming….  I’ll ask my friend Jim.  And if any of you have some poems or thoughts to share, I’d welcome that too.

I don’t even have a picture of the places we looked at to share with you.  But I do have a picture of a palm tree and an orange tree that I took one day on a walk around the block where my mom currently lives.  It’s not where I grew up, but I did grow up in Phoenix, and I can tell you that Phoenix was all about palm trees and orange trees.  To this day, orange blossoms are my very favorite scent in the world.

Sending you love and best wishes for a fabulous, happy, serene, or frolicking end of the year, and best wishes for a happy, fabulous, serene, and frolicking year to come!  May all beings be peaceful and happy, and care for one another with the one great heart of the world!

♥   Gayle

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