On this early morning, I find myself looking into the hourglass of time. Old age is what it is that I speak. If you are lucky enough to live into your 70’s, 80’s or even 90’s you should count yourself lucky right?
We move through life with an expiration date that is on each one of us. The date is unreadable and nonnegotiable. We come into this world knowing that at some point we will leave it. Some of us are lucky enough to have a life filled with family, children, grandchildren. Lifelong friends who become closer than family. Some of us are lucky to have a life of good health, wealth and carefree adventures. Others, find it a daily struggle to put food on the table, provide a little holiday cheer, or simply go a few weeks without a trip to the hospital or doctor.
We find the love of our life and marry them. Taking vowels of sickness and health, richer or poor, til death does us part. Those words are tested many times over and over throughout your lifetime and marriage. Did you ever stop to think what happens when your unable to care for yourself because your mind has betrayed you? What will you do when your unable to care for your spouse of 40 years, because she wanders at night? You have never spent a night apart and now you are faced with a very tough choice to make. The day you wake and just know you can no longer, do for him, as he has cared for you over the years. Your heart breaks as you take him to his new room. You see the fear in his eyes… You see the tears as they roll down her face when it’s time to go and she does not understand.
You know in your heart that this is the best thing. You know that no matter how much they cry and want to simply “go home” that home is no longer safe. You hold his hand as you visit each day. Getting to know that staff who have now become is everyday family. You sit and see him slowly slipping away, each time just a little further from you into the unknown. You notice that she does not recognize you as she did just two days go, calling you the name of her long since deceased brother. You will dread calling to check on him and the staff telling you, “today has not been a good day”.
You will learn to cherish the moments that she is in the here and now. The ever so brief recognition, that you are her child. You record the moment with a quick snapshot of the big smile on his face because he remembered you don’t like red jello but offers it to you anyhow. You will learn to cherish the days that you come to visit and you hear the staff say “today is a good day, she ate all her food.” You will look through photo books, wishing you had written the names, dates, and story’s down that you had heard so many time. You will find yourself recalling the same stories over and over to the younger generations so they will be remembered.
As a woman who has no children, I often wonder who will care for me, as my hair turns gray (more than it is now..) Who will make sure that my stories will be remembered. Who will the hospital call when it’s time for the family to come? Who will come for me to hold my hand and tell me its ok to go…
I have been in that same situation a few too many times. Holding the hand of a grandfather, thanking him for welcoming me to his family with open arms. I have said goodbye to aunts and uncles, friends and loved ones.
I have stood, alone in the funeral home next to the casket and said my final goodbyes.
The hard truth is who will stand at my casket?