Make every day count.

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I was sitting in the waiting room yesterday waiting for my pupils to dilate so the eye doc could peer into the depths of my inner being. Time was passing with ease as I flipped through a particularly beautiful magazine that featured some of the most fabulous homes on Nantucket I have ever seen; beachy, laid back elegance, lots of wide cabana stripes – totally my style.

Suddenly a strange sound caught my attention. It was a barely audible whimper. I looked up and in the corner of the room saw an elderly couple, also waiting to be called. The wife had a huge, healing bruise on the side of her face, probably the result of a fall. Her eyes were wide open, almost wild, her short, course hair completely flat on one side.  She was rocking back and forth in her seat mumbling and whining softly. My guess is she had had a devastating stroke at some point. Her husband sat next to her, petting her arm with one hand and holding a ziplock bag full of little fish shaped crackers in the other. I could hear his calm voice encouraging her to settle down, reassuring her that he was right there with her. Every so often, he’d dig into his little bag, pull out a cracker and gently put it into her mouth.

The husband turned his head my way and our eyes caught for just a second. I gave him a muted smile and he nodded my way. It was such a bittersweet scene.

I glanced back down at the magazine on my lap and turned the page. There, staring back at me, was a beautiful image of a young couple in their wedding day finery standing on a dock overlooking the water. You could not see their faces as they faced the horizon and stared off into the future. The woman’s long blonde hair curled down her bare back almost touching the satin bow tied tight at her waist. It was an advertisement for a resort on one of those dreamy islands off the north-east coast. I redirected my gaze from the gorgeous image of the newly weds back to the couple in the corner of the waiting room.  The juxtaposition of these two scenes was powerful and stark.   This old couple had been this young couple once.

I couldn’t tell if tears or the eye drops were slowly clouding my vision.  And I wondered…

Had this old lady with the scared, wild eyes worn a dress with a bow on their wedding day? Had her betrothed worn a uniform; maybe a crisp suit? Had she offered him that first slice of cake as lovingly as he was now offering her the crackers? Did they ever envision a time such as this when they thought about their future together?

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My mind exploded with thoughts- good ones and bad ones. The thoughts stayed with me all day and kept me up most of the night. My imagination took me to dark, sad places. I stared at my husband’s face as he slept; listened to the rhythm of his breathing. What will happen to us? Maybe it’s better not to know..

not to worry,

not to imagine.

We have today, and that’s what’s real- this moment in time; right now.

In the end, I distilled it all down to this: Live your life and love the people in it. Stay true to your family and honor your commitments to them. Don’t neglect your faith, for one day it will be the source of strength that gets you through.

And love.

Yes, love, love, love.

 

 

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photocredit:storiesofstardust.wordpress.com,www.freeimages.com

 

 

18 comments

      • Oh, Cindy … I know. It really tugs at the heartstrings to consider how alone and vulnerable some people would be without their mate, doesn’t it? Or worse yet, to think of those who never found a mate in the first place. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I have seen it! To this day I am sure my dad had a stroke probably because of mistakes he made with his meds..but boy oh boy, he wanted to live independently. He was so angry about being moved to assisted living..but it was for his protection and health. I can only imagine how many elderly people are on their own..who probably shouldn’t be. My poor dad was also so wrapped up in those bogus sweepstakes.. always sure he was going to hit it big..it was really sad..made me SO angry at these companies that prey on old people.

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      • I’m sorry for the delayed response to your message, Cindy — my family was busy celebrating my own dad’s 80th birthday.

        But I’m even sorrier to hear of the rough times your dad had. Like you, I wonder how many older Americans are living on their own longer than they probably should be. It sounds like it had tragic consequences for your dad — but I’m glad you had the courage to move him to assisted living. Whether he would admit it or not, it probably gave the two of you more quality time together, and it may have given you more TIME, too.

        Still, my heart goes out to you for having to make such tough decisions.

        PS: It should be categorically illegal to prey on old people, and companies that do it should be prosecuted. Grrr.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My mom (84) said she had an appt with Comcast the other day, but when they called electronically to confirm- she hung up on them. When I asked her why.. she said the recording asked if anyone over 18 would be home and she thought that was inappropriate so she hung up! I told her that they just wanted to make sure the parent wasn’t out shopping or at work with a ten year old home alone waiting for the repair man… 😐… but that’s the generation gap and aging and distrust all creeping in at once..and creating such confusion and vulnerability. BTW, Comcast was coming because my step dad had so hopelessly messed with the channel changer that nothing was working and so my mom hid the clicker so he couldn’t make it “worse” and called the cable company… 😁

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    • Oh Katie, I am so sorry. I went through it a few years back with my dad. He always used to say “Oh, when I get bad, I’ll just swim to a sand bar off the Keys and die alone..” Yeah, well that didn’t happen. I was a bit haunted be the couple yesterday..you could tell he really was protective of his wife, and so loving. Can you imagine what his days and nights are like? The only thing that made me feel better was to just remind myself to “carpe diem”..cause the “diem” is all we got, right?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Looking back Katie, even though my dad and I had some complicated stuff that really was never dealt with..it was a privilege to be with him during those last days. It was tough and really emotionally exhausting, but it was important to be there. I’ll pray for you to continue to be strong for your dad and everyone else..I know you are. 💛

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