This isn’t a puff piece or anything regarding skin care, this is an honest reflection of events of a couple weeks ago, if you’re looking for light and airy, move on, but if you have relatives that are aging, read on a bit…
You see 2 weeks ago an older lady from our ‘old’ church died. The one I grew up in. It wasn’t a shock, as she was older and had a debilitating disease that she managed fairly well but was visible, it was merciful in the fact that her family got to be there in the end, and it was liberating to me a few days later to realize that Jesus now had this woman where she could do more good. She was good anyway, her daughter (one of the only people who knows when I’m not fine when I say I am), says she was skin wrapped around love… that’s how she described her mom, how awesome, right? She never failed to talk to me, coo over my daughters and offer a big smile. Even though I had only seen her a handful of times in the last few years, I will definitely miss her… but when we went through the receiving line, her husband didn’t recognize me. Maybe it was the strain, I don’t know, but he didn’t have a clue, and his other daughter, who has met me maybe twice knew who I was. It hit me right then and there, that there’s a good chance this is coming down the pike more often than I’d like. That maybe taking care of her had worn him out. Will he follow her soon? For my friend’s sake, I hope not. Unfortunately, that congregation is an older one– my parents, let’s just say they were in their 30s when they had me, and they are the YOUNGER folks in church.
Flash forward to an outside conversation with my mom. I told her that the gentleman didn’t know who I was. That was when she went on to tell me about my uncle.. who I have only seen a handful of times, as they live in the southern part of the country… he and his wife came up to visit everyone, but … he didn’t know why. Now, every once in a while the family gets together because most of them live close, my parents are a bit further away, but I guess the rest of them visited their old home place and included the brother on this. So they KNEW that he wasn’t ‘all there’… and so when my mom showed up the next day. NO ONE TOLD HER. She hugged her brother and he didn’t hug her back. He didn’t know her, or any of the rest of them.
My mom is younger than 6 of her 7 remaining siblings. Some of them by quite a few years. They’re all getting older, they all look beautiful and young to me, but maybe that’s denial setting in. As years pass, we’ll lose more of the ones we love. It won’t be shocking, but it will be painful. Just as we begin to really appreciate relatives and our past and try to learn from them, they slip away. We’re always so busy, and then, unfairly, they pass from this world into the next. Where we can talk and talk, but they won’t talk back. Their stories still and silence reigns. Knowledge and truth and wisdom (so very far removed from what passes for culture today) fades quietly into the dawn.
I have no grandparents left. My husband has a grandmother, and HER mother also still living. That’s it. We have aunts and uncles (mine much older than his), 3 of our parents, siblings, and our children. Who will teach our kids about putting peanuts in a bottle of soda? Who will offer an inside joke, or have a quirk that makes you laugh, or say ‘come visit for a while, give your parents a break’… sneak them ice cream and say ‘you get more beautiful every time I see you’… when the greatest generation fades, will the next age as gracefully and have as much experience and as many things to share?