When my mom died four years ago, I had little time to prepare. A massive heart attack took her last breaths and she never recovered. Though an extremely violent and painful way to exit the planet, her experience was brief and non-lingering. I was blessed to have been with her when she died; tubes gracefully taken away, her quiet rhythm slowed its beat and she gently passed a few hours as the sun woke on a Tuesday morning. Touching her sweet face, kissing her forehead, I lovingly said goodbye. Grace overcame me that day and so began my new journey without mom.
We watch our parents grow old. It is not always comfortable. It’s not comfortable to accept their aging process. The discomfort comes from the unknown of what is to be. Aging gracefully, while sounds poetic, may not be everyone’s picnic. Grace, as I see it, comes from the process itself; we find moments of grace within the yin and yang of aging.
Sitting with her tonight at the hospital, my mom-in-law, her moment of grace came in a brief conversation about dying, aging and family – what it’s like to be almost ninety. She’s had a rough time of late. Several falls have caused more than one visit to the hospital. She is open and realistic. She understands she is aging – her limits are more settled. Getting back to our discussion, I told her that even as young as her great-grandchildren were, they are blessed to share life with her. She quickly added:
“We are really blessed. Perhaps we are here to help each other, teach each other.”
She is very wise.
Acceptance of an aging parent takes time. The process varies. Acceptance varies. I think the more we relish in the fact our parents are oldER, we might find a few more moments of grace ourselves.