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Maxim for Life

WHERE WE ARE

I chose the title of this column when my aunt said to me, “It’s okay. It’s where we are in life.” That was 2009.

One of my first columns told about a phone conversation with Aunt Doris, who was 83 at the time and has since passed away. When I asked what she and Uncle Hugh had done during that week, she said they’d attended two funerals. One for a close friend. I was upset that they had lost a good friend and their week was spent at the funeral home and church.

Aunt Doris said, “It’s okay. It’s where we are in life.”   With those words, she assured me that she had accepted her life stage. Aunt Doris and Uncle Hugh were familiar with the rituals of death. Each morning and at noontime, they listened to the radio for the local news and obituaries, and Aunt Doris called her church or a friend if she needed more information about a death.

By that afternoon, she had fried apple pies or a homemade chocolate pie ready to take to the family of the deceased. She and Uncle Hugh attended visitation or the funeral and sometimes both. They gave their time and hearts to comfort those who were mourning.

In a 2009 column, I wrote that I’d adopted Aunt Doris’s words as a maxim for life. No matter what my age or situation, it’s where I was and being okay was my goal. And now, that Husband and I are losing friends to death and many of our conversations are about sickness, I preach Aunt Doris’s words to myself.

Recent deaths hit hard. Our next-door neighbor of 34 years and another friend with whom we’ve celebrated good times since 1977. Some friends care for invalid parents. Others suffer debilitating illnesses. Friends endure chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Wheelchairs and walkers are common in homes. I’m not accepting any of this easily.

It’s comforting to remember the past. Sleeping twice for two hours during the night and hoping for a nap when a baby naps. Giving baby showers and wedding parties. Sewing Halloween costumes and Easter dresses. Chauffeuring children to sports practices, piano lessons, church choir. Monitoring homework.

Travelling long distances to watch Daughter play volleyball and Son play basketball. Welcoming twelve teen-age girls to Friday night slumber parties. Cooking hamburgers for Son and his friends. Hosting a 50th wedding anniversary dinner for parents.

Celebrating engagements and weddings. Cuddling newborn grandchildren. Comforting a Grand during his first overnight stay, his first time to sleep away from home and his parents. And now, setting the family table for six adults and eight Grands for Christmas morning breakfast.

Aunt Doris was right. It’s where we are in life that determines what we do. And she showed me that accepting a life stage and its activities, its blessings, and its trials make life okay.

I don’t have to like losing friends and sickness. Just accept. I’ll keep talking to myself.

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