I see the picture of the three of us. Framed in silver, it sits on the marble-top console table that had been my grandmother’s. I mention the picture when it catches my eye as I sit in my mother’s living room during my weekday visit.
She smiles and says, “When I see it I think, who is the old woman in that picture?”
Since the picture includes me, my husband and mom, I ask, “Which one?” Both laughing, the conversation continues as we talk about how quickly the years pass, how subtle the changes are, and how our physical bodies age.
Hearing the depressive tone in her voice and seeing tears gathering, I shift our talk to the ways of the Spirit being timeless, how our soul is always young. Eyes widen and her smile broadens as she says, “Yes, that’s how I feel! That old woman in that picture is just getting tired. My body just can’t keep up with my mind.”
Driving home, my eyes are the next ones swelling up with tears. I think of all the conversations recently that seem to show mom is beginning to comprehend her mortality. Like each of us, it will be her last challenge. How she prepares and accepts its reality will influence all of us.
What do I want to do?
I want to avoid the subject. I would prefer to play games, laugh and pretend our time together is limitless. But then I would ask a question that might haunt me for the rest of my life – “What did I do to help her with the transition?”
This woman brought me forth into the world and has given me many things and meaningful lessons. But the greatest gift she gave was introducing me to God. She gave me the seeds to grow my faith and to understand the promise of Eternal Life.
I am not a scholar who has answers to all her questions. I am not a saint with unwavering faith. But I am a Christian. Because of that, I hope the greatest gift I give mom or any ageing parent or friend is my assurance through faith, that they too will conquer death.
I will be brave enough to hold their hand. I will let them wrestle with their fears and not turn away, and I will assure them there is a place where their body and mind will be –
I love the song Forever Young originally written by Bob Dylan – you can read the words here. I am grateful that some of the elders I know are blessed with many of the attributes Dylan sings about in this song. And we are all thankful when they have remain Forever Young in their mind. What about your ageing loved ones? I’d love to hear your story?