Posted by: natalietm | August 15, 2007

I’m Here For The Party

I just received word that my new friend passed away this weekend.

Death announcements have been coming my way with great regularity. You see, I’m at that phase in life where aging family members are shifting the way and where I spend my time. In the past year I’ve said goodbye to my step-father, my mother-in-law and my mother’s active memory. The lounges and halls of the nursing home are often my “office away from home” these days.

Additionally, I’ve made lots of new “old” friends. Many of them I already call my late friends, as the mortality rate with this age group increases with each passing day. As strange as it may seem, this is a privilege beyond my wildest dreams.

Admittedly, not everyone looks at this time of life with a sense of joyful expectation, yet imagine if they did! We fear aging as if fearing it will prevent it from happening.

What if we began to approach this time of life with less resistance; happy anticipation; loving outlooks? Those of us lucky enough to have elderly people in our lives can begin now. Instead of turning away from the people in our lives who are experiencing this new phase, jump in enthusiastically! Be curious about what it’s like, provide a needed ear and hand to hold. An assurance that no one is deserving of abandonment, least of all the people who paved our way. It will be us, soon enough, and how wonderful if we transitioned with the data we are collecting now. Forget aging gracefully, how about aging joyfully?

Sound pie in the sky? Let me introduce you to the woman I mentioned in the first sentence.

While sitting bedside with my mom and my new friend in the hospital, I was reminded how we can live joyfully no matter what.

Her elderly roommate, aka my new friend, whose cognitive ability had diminished considerably, taught me a wonderful lesson about being present to what is when she was asked by a health care provider, “Do you know why you’re in the hospital?”? She responded, most seriously and reflective of how we’d been spending the past few days visiting and joking and laughing, “Oh, I’m not here for the hospital. I’m here for the party.”

Cake, anyone?

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