Aging, ailing health, and dying are tough topics in our society. We seem to ignore the realities, we tend to only put the spotlight on the young, on the hungry, on the vibrant, on the bold, and we don’t spend much time with elders as they fade.
I think its hard because the candle of optimism struggles to stay lit as a person becomes weak and frail. For many, there’s little to look forward to, little purpose in life, little of anything to accomplish. I’ve always maintained that goals are the fountain of youth, and once a person no longer has goals, he or she truly becomes old. I believe we can really help elderly folks if we can help them have some goals in their 70’s, 80’s, and beyond.
Sadly, my mom is old in this sense, having suffered from a massive aneurysm in her late 60’s, shortly after losing her main purpose to live, which was taking care of my grandmother. She is now 79 and may be on her last page in fact, having fallen because of a bleed in her brain last week. Although the bleed does not seem to be spreading, she shows few signs of being able to make a comeback after a week in the hospital. I pray that she does make a comeback, but I also pray that, if this is really her last page, she makes the leap to heaven and the afterlife as painlessly as possible. Only God knows what the next days will bring.
In this moment, it is easy to get down, it can be difficult to see where optimism is and how optimism can help. It has turned out to be a moment of clarity and discovery for me: I find that my belief in God, and my mom’s belief in God, is the one thread of optimism that remains strong. We both believe that she will see God and her loved ones in heaven. I take comfort that she will be watching over me and my family here on earth. I love her and wish her the best, and feel at peace that she led a good life, a life of purpose, while here. She has had a tremendous influence on the person that I now am, and the person I still hope to become. I believe that I have successfully passed down her values to my daughters. My mom made a positive impact on everyone she was around.
At this trying time, I have come to realize one thing: by choosing to have faith in God, my mom and her family have optimism, even if she is facing her final days and hours. Without faith, all optimism is extinguished, because a person sees themselves as a random mistake of biology that took on life for just a short while. Faith in God is a choice each person can make — it pays important dividends to one’s very last breath.
Vaya Con Dios, Mom. I hope that you make another cat-with-nine-lives comeback, but if not this time, I love you and I’m certain that you will be truly home in heaven.