It’s always a special treat to spend time with my dear, sweet mother. In fact, I hated to leave this morning. As she draws nearer to her eighty-eighth birthday (this August), every day with her becomes ever more precious. The photo at left isn’t a great one; blame the photographer (me) … I snapped this shortly before heading out the door. I think she’s beautiful!
When we’re together, I try to get her talking about events from her earlier life. I’m so thankful she still has a good memory that hasn’t been ravaged by old-age senility! Despite her limited vision, she continues to have a zest for life and an interest in the world outside her door. Anyone who observes her would not be aware of her sight disability because she navigates well.
Still, it is a huge challenge for her everyday because society (by default) caters to sighted people, and she remains dependent on others for her comings and goings. For someone as fiercely independent as she’s always been, this involuntary dependency has been an adjustment. As for carrying a cane, she’s not inclined to cede another loss to old age, if she can avoid it!
Hearing loss is a more recent disability she’s learning to accept and address. An unfortunate byproduct of hearing loss, she’s told me, people tend to equate hearing loss with some degree of diminished intellect. Whenever people talk as though she’s not in the room, she is naturally hurt and offended. (I definitely understand how that would make her feel!)
As my mom’s second child, I’m privileged to have been a part of her life longer than my younger siblings. (Over the years, I’ve come to understand how one’s birth order can dramatically determine the level of insight that person achieves with one’s parents.) The things I’ve learned about my mom’s childhood and who she was as a young woman enable me to have a better understanding for the woman I know today. (If you care to read other posts I’ve written about her, there are more than a few. These are a good start: here, here and here.)
Watching my mom age, I’ve come to understand certain truths about aging. (I’ve used the most relevant one for my post’s title!) I’m not at the same stage she is, but as with concentric circles, there are parallels in our age-related sagas. (Search my blog and you’ll realize I’ve discussed this topic as well!) And honestly, I’ve decided it doesn’t really matter what stage of aging you’ve reached, aging is ultimately an insult! Borrowing from Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:8, “… it was not this way in the beginning.” (God’s original design didn’t include aging or death.)
If I must grow old, though, (and God willing, I shall continue to do so), my hope is to grow old emulating the beauty and grace my mom lives out everyday. Her life has never been perfect … I think she learned early any illusion of perfection would be a foolish expectation. In some ways, she’s lived much of her life making lemonade from whatever lemons were dropped on the front step … no complaints, no whining, just an affirmation to press forward.
The poem below addresses aging, but more in relation to my Beloved (and myself). It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at aging, with a heavy dose of poetic license (for instance, neither of us has dentures and we didn’t know each other when we were fifteen). As to the photo, well, my Beloved is much better looking than the cartoonish guy pictured and I can’t think of anyone else with whom I’d rather grow old!