Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
Thanksgiving has passed. People are rushing to grab the bargains—for others, for themselves. SALES are everywhere. We barely had time to recognize all we have before we’re hurrying to buy more. But in the midst of feast we may have noticed that our most precious possessions aren’t even necessities such as food and shelter. (If you’re able to read this blog, you probably aren’t missing the essentials of survival.) Our treasures are relationships. We celebrate that we have people to love and to love us in return.
We don’t want to dwell on the holes in our lives when we have so much, but perhaps it’s healthy to remember now and then that the scene we view now must change. For many, the table will need to be bigger as little ones and new friends and spouses are added. For others, life will remove loved ones to distant locations—eventually beyond living. The crowded table may become a memory.
Recently, my husband and I watched the film THE LEISURE SEEKER. The title repeats the name a long-married couple (Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren) gave to the RV in which he drove them and their children on vacations around the country until the children were grown and flown, and the couple began facing severe health crises. Finally, when treatment will mean separation and pain and attempts at recovery that will inevitably fail, the couple eludes their well-meaning children and sets off on a final vacation. Their love story is their determination not to live without one another.
We who are older must face the cliff every day—the cliff that is the end of this life. We see warnings in the mirror each morning: “Notice the gray hair, the lines, the weariness. Prepare yourself. At some point you will not continue here, or you may have to do without people who do the most to beautify your being.” This is the conversation we never wanted to have—and still don’t. My husband’s aunt, who lived into her nineties, told me the hardest part of living a long life was saying goodbye to family and friends, one by one, year after year. She said she was sick of funerals. What’s the good of thinking about death? Those who convince themselves that change will apply only to minor details of life lose their balance when death destroys their plans. Does being realistic help? I may find out.
One of my favorite scenes in the film came when the RV blew a tire and the couple was stranded by the side of a remote road waiting for AAA to come. A car filled with young men stops, but instead of helping, they seize the husband at knife point and send the wife into the RV to fetch her purse. As the husband, a professor sinking into dementia, lectures his captor on grammar and the need to return to school, the wife emerges from the RV, leveling a shotgun at the robbers. The robber holding her husband threatens to slit his throat if she doesn’t drop the gun, but she assures him she’s ready to shoot her husband and him simultaneously. “We have nothing to lose,” she tells him, and the young man realizes he and his friends have their lives before them. The robbery is thwarted.
Nothing to lose. I used to say that about incarcerated murderers whose sentences would surely surpass their lifespans. I didn’t want to think of that phrase one day applying to my husband and me—probably not as conveniently simultaneous as for the couple in the film. Each aberration in our health worries me. I can sense the cliff. I guess the only remedy is to live in acute awareness and gratitude while we plan for futures we don’t want to see. From that perspective, Thanksgiving becomes a momentous opportunity to cherish each day for what it is.