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26 May 2012 @ 12:04 am
Didn't See this One Coming  


Despite my deepest wish that I could know well in advance what Life has up her sleeve for me at any given moment, I am humbly grateful that I wasn't given a head's up on my latest chapters. My jaw would have suffered a nasty break when it dropped to the floor.

And then I would have run for the hills as fast as my legs would have taken me. I'd be nothing but smoky trails. 

Instead, I find myself content, quieted and-- well, strangely okay. For a number of months, I've been helping take care of a loved one who is in an Assisted Living Facility. And when I say taking care of, I mean living there about 1/2-time. Living in a facility with 24/7 Muzak overhead, treacherous walker/wheelchair commuter traffic, and the enduring scent of scents meant to cover other scents. And when I say enduring, I mean in my hair, under my nail beds and deep in my nasal membrane.

It's a bit like living in an alternatve universe, or being visited by Jacob Marley's Ghost of the Xmas Future. I am seeing my own existence projected thirty years forward, and at the same time, I am thrust three decades back. Living with the octogenarians makes me feel young, incredibly spry, very able. I've stopped perseverating about wrinkles, and feel immensely grateful for my state of continence. Not to mention the exemplary work of my eyes, ears, and every organ that operates of its own accord without cajoling or pharmaceuticals.

And I am reassessing the judgements I have made in my ignorance of what it might be like to be 80, or 90 or 100. I watch their uni-tasking with great awe and admiration. There are great, long silences behind eyes that are watching and looking. What do we really know of another's inner life? 

I want to take a giant, exacting pair of pruning sheers to my life and go deep-- splitting off the dead wood, and getting back to the very truest, unadorned me. I am painfully awake to my very mortality, so achingly clear on how ridiculously little time we all have.

WHAT matters? What will I do with the time I have left in this "wild and precious life?"

I will be really kind to all living creatures.
No--I will be outrageously kind, especially to the overlooked and underloved.
I will be a light. Even when I'm feeling dim.
I will recognize that we each have a truth that serves as our unique soundtrack. I rock best to my own.
I will swim more and let my inner eleven year old pick out all my bathing suits. 
I will cherish the small ring of my most beloved friends. I will Skype the living daylights out of them if they'll let me. The days are coming when I will lose them, one by one by one.
I will ask for what I want from others in a voice without apology.
I will be generous to a fault and fully celebrate that shortcoming. It's my factory setting and I'm sticking  with it.
I will run more and worry less about the bouncy parts.
I will not be disuaded from action by the delusion that people are watching me. If they are, poor souls, what a boring life they must have. Grab a seat then and enjoy the show. 
I will practice radical gratitude, whether it runs like a river or is as dry as toast on a corpse.

And what it comes time for me to diaper up, I will pull up my poofy pants with deep satisfaction for a life well flung and high hopes for what is still to come.

Namaste, friends, namaste--
Mary

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on May 26th, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
So Beautiful
Mary, This is just beautiful. Having just moved into my seventh decade, and watching my 90 year old mother, your words really touch my heart. Yes, live to the fullest for as long as you can, and then move into the rest with your head high and your back as straight as you can hold it. Love and peace, Dianne
maryhershey on May 26th, 2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
Re: So Beautiful
Sweet Dianne, when I was writing, "I will be a light'', your image came to me, as it always does. You and your example continue to be my driving mission at the VA. I want to be just like you in every way. I fall so short, but I will never give up. Hope all is will with mama.

Love and miss you--
Mary
(Anonymous) on May 26th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
I love your list
I love to see what you will do with what is left of your wild and precious life. I can attest that you are already excelling in those categories and encourage you to rock on.

(Anonymous) on May 27th, 2012 12:14 am (UTC)
Didn't see it coming?
Mary, I have ALWAYS seen you as one of the the kindest, most generous, and most loving souls I have ever known. Are you saying in this writing that you feel the need to be more than you are in those respects. Can't imagine what "more" would look like. Just continue being the marvelous Mary that you are! I actually think you are a saint.

With much love and admiration,
K
(Anonymous) on May 28th, 2012 04:07 am (UTC)
Mary,

I need to tattoo your post on my forehead. You've captured the spirit of a life well-lived.

Thank you,
Donna
www.donnagephart.com
amy koss on May 28th, 2012 05:28 am (UTC)
Thanks for the excellent post!
Amy G Koss
gsgood on May 28th, 2012 12:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Donna, for leading me here. Yes, beautiful. And your sidebar quotes are perfect.
Augusta
(Anonymous) on May 28th, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
wow
These words were received by my eyes so gratefully and tantalized my mind ever so sweetly, thank you for the expression of such beautiful truths for us to ponder upon; ...and thank you Donna, for triggering my attention and sharing this with me.

wow.
klaus
Carl Brickey on May 28th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
Didn't See ...
Ahhh ... reality rears it's ugly head once again. Sorry you are obligated to experience these things first hand, but it's nice to read your insights. Most aren't able to see anything but themselves being inconvenienced. Poor souls.
maryhershey on May 28th, 2012 08:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Didn't See ...
Loved having you all stop by. A toast to all our journeys-- let's give it all we've got!

Pax and love,
Mary
Kate Meehan on June 1st, 2012 09:51 pm (UTC)
What will we do?
Yes, I am acutely aware of where we are headed and appreciate my relative mobility, fairly adequate brain power, and yes, continence(!). What I am most acutely aware of, however, is that I do not have a wonderful daughter like you to care for me in my advanced age. I am not alone in being childless and recognize that in the future many of us will only have each other as we advance in age and require assistance.
I want my friends to want to be with me as I age, as I will want to be with them through the aches, pains, and heartaches we will surely encounter. You are right, we will lose each other one by one, and we should celcbrate our friendships as if each day may be the last.

Thank you Mary for putting into wonderful prose what I have being trying to articulate for a long time.
maryhershey on June 2nd, 2012 03:47 am (UTC)
Re: What will we do?
Jill and I have got your back, Kate. We're here for you. Don't you dare move away again! :- )

I look forward to us all aging together... and yes caring for one another... becoming mothers and daughters and sisters to one another.

XO,
Mary
(Anonymous) on June 2nd, 2012 07:02 am (UTC)
I love this post!
And your insights, Mary!

And you!

Always,

Neriza
maryhershey on June 2nd, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
Re: I love this post!
Thanks, Neriza! Love having you here always.

I keep thinking of what Anne Lamott always reminds us-- from Ram Dass-- "We are all just walking each other home." What extraordinary company I have on this journey. xoxo
(Anonymous) on August 11th, 2012 08:04 am (UTC)
Mary speaks the truth - again!!
Ah friend - I've been away from your wonderful insight and the shineness of your paticular brand of truth. This was so lovely to read. Thank you. Hope to catch up at some point before too long. Many x's and o's
(Anonymous) on August 11th, 2012 08:06 am (UTC)
Re: Mary speaks the truth - again!!
BTW - I AM NOT Anonymous but Darcey!
(Anonymous) on September 26th, 2012 06:33 pm (UTC)
My dearest Mary,
You are such a glowing light in this world. Your words and actions never cease to inspire and motivate me. You have true wisdom and insight in your heart and soul. You are amazing, wonderful and I love you. Thank you for being you...Holding you close in my heart every day.
Deb