Aging

Days That Shape The Soul

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Aging, Extraordinary Everyday People, Life, Remembrance | 22 comments

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If you were offered a chance to go back and revisit a day in your past, would you? Which day would you pick?

I asked myself this question yesterday as I sat watching a dozen or so wheelchair bound individuals swinging foam noodles at a balloon. I wondered what day they would pick if asked. Would a day playing the noodle game be worth revisiting – I wondered.

Our life is a masterful architectural linking of moments that together create a framework for our story, the story of our soul. No moment stands alone and yet each one carries its own weight while our heart and soul are being constructed from the inside.

Some days hold great experiences – events we wish would never end, while others are deeply sorrowful. And some days don’t seem memorable at all.

I’m not sure what day I would revisit if I could.

Happy days are easy to recall like the birth of my children, or trips to faraway places, but in the bigger scheme of things, I don’t need to relive them. They’re part of who I am and deeply rooted in my story.

I have many days I wish I could go back and do over. There are words I wish I hadn’t spoken and days poor choices affected the rest of my life. But admittedly those days are also deeply rooted in who I am.

The white haired souls at the nursing home are nearing the end of their days. Much of their time is spent alone with themselves – wandering the hallways of their memories. I asked one of the more lucid individuals which day she would revisit if she could. Her answer was simple. “Days can’t be separated from each other. Separating days would be like trying to take apart a fully baked cake”.

The mysterious soul within each of us – our eternal soul, is grown and shaped by our day to day life experiences. Whether encased in tragedy, celebration, boredom, or fairness – we become the unfolding of its masterful creation for God’s eternal use.

It may feel as though we’ve fallen victim to a faulty cake recipe. And some days might seem as though our only accomplishment is smacking a silly balloon around the room. But the truth is, every day is a gift. And the shaping of our soul is the greatest mystery we’re invited to read and write.

“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of a great mystery.”
Annie Dillard

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Remembering Yesterday

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Aging, Love, Remember | 22 comments

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The sun caught a tiny droplet as it slipped over a crease from the corner. It made its way down the canyon of lines time had carved. I could almost predict the place it would land. I knew it would eventually evaporate rather than be absorbed. The leathery skin was long past supple – and so were some of the places in her heart.

This afternoon was different. Something about our conversation struck a chord – a distant memory brought moisture back to her dull eyes. A trickle released from the welled up reservoir.

Her hand slowly moved up from the frail lap where it rested, revealing dried residue from a lunch spill. She tried to catch the unfamiliar moisture before it exposed her vulnerable self.

The words, “I can’t remember,” faintly slipped through her pursed lips. She knew it was a simple question – one she could easily answer. Instead, blank space now occupied much of what used to be full.

Another question and a long pause un-furrowed her brow. “He grabbed me from behind yesterday and we danced all the way to the garden,” she told me. For a moment her eyes joined the waltz before her thoughts tiptoed away.

Her retired dancing legs now hang limp from a seat supported by large worn wheels.

Yesterday was probably decades ago and yet it graciously visited for a quick look back today. Tenderness and youth were deposited –  for just a moment.

She didn’t remember the landslide of days that passed too quickly, or the monotonous months spent working behind a desk. Her mind didn’t bother to recall the thousands of trips to the supermarket, gas station or business appointments. Her positions, titles, paychecks, accumulations were all long gone and of no significance to her now.

She remembered her feelings though. She remembered matters of the heart.

I often wonder what we’ll remember in heaven and what part of our earthly existence goes with us. Will we be tormented by what we can’t hold onto – those memories of all we thought brought us significance. Or will we be remiss that too much time was spent on things that didn’t matter at all.

Worn leathery skin doesn’t happen overnight and neither does a tired leathery heart.

Healthy heart care comes from a lifetime of intentional choices. When memories fade and life narrows to a simpler existence the mind releases much that has been accumulated – sometimes to our benefit and other times not.

give yourself permission to cry and feel, to love and be loved. Make memories. Touch someone’s soul with your words and actions. Actions that remain.

Today will eventually become our yesterday too – the yesterday we hope to remember.

 

 

 

 

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In a Moving Vehicle

Posted by on Apr 24, 2014 in Aging, Control, Humility, Motherhood | 20 comments

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For now, they share the back seat while I drive. A carseat and a walker. Time never stands still, but today, my personal timeline sits in my car. I hesitate to look in either direction – back or forward.

I have no recollection of ever occupying a carseat myself, in fact I remember being lined up in the backseat of a station wagon shoulder to shoulder – all four of us. Seven years separating the firstborn from the youngest.

The carseat era brought with it restraints and a need for front seat entertainment rather than management. No more playing the “she touched me” game for the thrill of watching a leg get slapped from the front. No more trying to be the one closest to the window for relief from smells, annoying tapping and endless questions.

Today is different. Today I’m the keeper of the carseat from the front. I wrestle and manipulate the wiggly little creature into it. I lock firmly and tighten for safety. I manage entertainment, but never slap.

The carseat holds hope, dreams, undiscovered galaxies. Next to it – the walker.

I remember the day we went to the Salvation Army to find an appropriate walker. She was sure she didn’t really need one even though all the health professionals told her she did. None of the gizmos seemed right. One was too short, one too bulky, they needed a basket for carrying things. They all made her look old.

I can’t say I was sympathetic, or patient. It was just one of the ten other tasks on my checklist to make my job a little easier.

Ten years later it gets thrown in the backseat like my appendage, the purse. It haunts me. I sit in front.

A stroll down our timeline is a stark reminder we’re trapped in a moving vehicle. Time progresses without our consent. We change seats and don’t even know it.

She was once a carseat dweller. Young, full of dreams. She didn’t concern herself with thoughts of walkers, purses, or days spent looking back. The world was her galaxy.

I can’t be concerned with where I sit.

One day the carseat will vacate and little one will move up front. My walker will occupy the back as she looks over her shoulder to be sure I’m properly buckled in.

Life is a vapor. Life is to be cherished, valued. Used up.

Mourning the loss of years gone by is as futile as anxious anticipation of the future. The young drink from the old. The old dry up. The driver sits in the front seat with misguided feelings of control and worth.

Life is a gift. Our value comes from the life given us, no other place.

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog — it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4:14

The smudgy fingerprints on the carseat will be the same that grip the wheel and eventually the walker handles. Some things change – others remain.. Our DNA, our gifts planted from above, and the tiny lines on our fingers never change – just where they land in the grip.

 

I’m grateful to be linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee today and #imperfectprose.

 

 

 

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