What I’ve discovered after so many years, is that each of us has a story. The story is composed of special moments that happened during the various chapters of our lives and our reactions to them. These stories or chapters in our book of life made us who we are and led us each down the paths we were then destined to go.
In a nutshell, you become the essence of who you are from the experiences you’ve had and your reactions to them, shown in the choices you made.
If you are quite lucky, you have friends with whom you have become close. Part of that closeness has been created by your willingness to share some of the chapters of your life and the outcomes of the choices you made. It is equally your eagerness to hear another’s “moments of clarity” and how those came to be for them.
Sometimes our reactions seem small but reveal the future. Like a friend who shared that when he first met his wife to be, he had gone home and written: Janet: Arizona; teacher, sailor, pert.
He shared that he had gone back later and scratched out “pert” and replaced it with “lovely.” That revealed how he felt about her as a person, once he got to know her more. It also tells the listener why, 27 years after first meeting her, their lives together have stayed the course and are a tribute to both.
I feel confident that were he to write one adjective to describe her today, after 27 years together, it would still be “lovely.” The difference might be that the adjective might describe him as well. He has shown himself to be that kind of quality human being.
When my husband was battling cancer, he lost a ton of weight (not literally) and also his beautiful, natural wavy hair. One day he came out from the shower and said, “Look at me, I am so ugly!” While it was true that his cancer had taken its toll on his body, I told him how I honestly felt. “You are not ugly, honey. You are beautiful to me, because that body holds the soul I love.” That truth as we age, makes all the difference.
Once someone told me, “You two together are synergistic.” I will hold that compliment in my heart forever. The only thing better, in my opinion, would be if this compliment could also be ascribed to all people as we interact together.
Inevitably, we eventually will lose the partner we have loved and have shared our life with (or they will lose us!) and our hearts seem irreparably broken. It is a time of learning to be alone and learning to be independent. Certainly not lessons we had ever wanted to have to learn. For so many seniors who have been very used to having a partner they cared about and shared their life with, it is a very hard time. There are still choices, if you love life and are willing to be flexible and willing to reach a little outside your comfort level. The saying in the Torah or the Bible, that “man is not meant to be alone” is, for most of us, quite true.
If we are fortunate, we might find someone with whom to share this last chapter. That someone may have also lost their life partner. We can learn to laugh again and to share stories of times long past, with compassion and smiles and enjoying the fun memories they invoke. It isn’t a competition. It isn’t a matter of replacing the person we have lost. That is impossible. It is a matter of making a choice to live, love, laugh and be happy again, whether alone or with friends who are more precious than ever. We develop hobbies that we enjoy or places where we can volunteer and make a difference. We can find things to do and hopefully people to do them with that make us feel significant once again. it is a choice. We can look out for one another and share our stories and be grateful for a very different kind of caring and commitment.
One which might also later be described as “lovely.”
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