Sunday, February 06, 2011


"I think these things happen as a way for God to prepare us to be willing to leave this world."

He sighs as he says it and turns his hands palms up in a "what are you going to do?" kind of way. He's referring to his loss of hearing, his unsteadiness on his feet, the headaches that sometimes last for days. Even though I'm sitting a few feet across from him his voice is so loud that the people in the next unit probably hear his commentary on life as well.

Bit by bit his faculties are dimming. It's a miracle he's still with us after 3 open heart surgeries and many mini strokes. As he talks I am reminded of his own father who longed to go "home" many years before he did. I feel a little taken aback by his statement though. I don't think I agree with his belief, almost certain it would take a punitive God to believe it.

The last time we were together he had uncharacteristically taken my face in both his hands as he said goodbye and dished out some good natured ribbing his eyes sparkling all the while. It was one of those moments I will treasure forever because it came from the heart.

I've long thought growing old was a privilege. Maybe that's easier to think because I'm not there yet. Sometimes I wonder if the litany of ill health that sometimes peppers the conversations of older folks is really a way of grieving what was and never will be again. I wonder what it would look like if we could honour that process instead of getting irritated by those in the midst of it. Dearest one's Pa has the same litany day in and day out. I wonder if he felt like he had been heard his conversation could expand to other things. Or if it's me who needs expanding.


Black Pete said...

Growing old, as I am (so far), is incremental and despite the feeling of it, a slow process. Something doesn't work as well one day, then something else. There are any number of possible reactions: most of the time, i lean toward acceptance. But then, I am growing old with someone I love, it is a different sory: not one of loss, but a slow gain.

Owen said...

That's quite a thought -the quote- I'm placing it in my Moleskine now. So different from my own father's perspective shortly before his death.