Friday, September 16, 2011

A birthday thought......

When I think that on this day thirteen years ago, my grandmother left us to travel on and I look at my mother's situation, I can only wonder what made them so different. What made their lives turn in such completely opposite directions? One begat the other and yet they could almost be from two different universes, so different were their approaches to life.

Granny - Olga Winnifred Comma Maynard - died at ripe old age of 96 (and three-quarters, but who's counting?). She was, until the year of her passing, fully alive. She was bright, interesting and interested in everything around her. For her last big writing project in 1997 (she had many in my lifetime), she was writing an article to the newspaper about all the Y2K fuss. She was passionate about her family and her God; full of life and love; and as enthralled about nature at 96 as she had been at 6, I'm guessing. She was a complete joy and lived in complete joy. Though widowed at 83, she spent the remaining days of her life alone but never lonely. Well it would have been hard to be lonely. How could she be with all the 'heathens' (her loving term for the lot of us), traipsing through her house day and night, and her faithful housekeeper/friend/daughter Irene at her side during the daytime?

Mummy on the other hand, is still very much alive but not nearly as fully alive (and this even before her diagnosis I would venture to say), as Granny was. What is it, I wonder, that makes some of us fully alive and others not even nearly so?

Mummy used to say that single parenthood dragged one down. I'm not one to say, having as I do, no chick, nor child, nor parrot on a stick, but certainly my mother never lived the way my Granny did. I often wonder if Mummy's lack of passion for anything other than her profession was part of the path that led us to where we are today? But who can know these things?

So today, on Granny's day and on the eve of my own birthday, I must recommit myself to full life. This is not so easy for any of us to do, but do it I must. In addition to whatever caregiving responsibilities I may have, I must also ensure that my days contain sufficient 'life of the mind' activities. This 'life of the mind' stuff I learned from watching Granny. She practiced this behavior every day and it was a practice which allowed her to be (and feel) productive well into her nineties. Perhaps, these are the things that will keep me fully alive until I, like Granny, travel on. I can only hope and pray.

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