Man, I so don’t want to make you cry, hell I don’t want to make me cry. So I have been hesitant to write lately… my mother yet again is in the hospital. I knew that at some point she was not going to rebound and demand to be sent home, to catch up on the news, write a letter to the editor or read the latest Louise Penny book. I fear this is the time.
When we first moved to the island the majority of our new friends still had at least one parent to worry about. In the last year or two a lot of our new friends have lost their guardian generation. The majority of the parents lived good long lives into their nineties..my friends who are reading this.. you’ve all been here. You know where I’m coming from. Share my feelings.
What is the definition of a good life. Mom always said she had a “good war”. She spent the Second World War in the airforce at a pilot training base. The pilots wanted to dance every night before they left for Europe…Mom had a blast. Sure, she lost friends and family. Her fiancée was shot down over France… but she chose to remember her war as a good one.
Mom says her family was perfect. Sure her husband was a piece of crap. But she says she had ten years of happiness which is more than some marriages and it gave her three children who by all evidence at the hospital this week, love her dearly. She chooses to remember her family life as a good one.
There is a TED talks about the secret to longevity, I haven’t found the talk about how to make those years happy too. But I suspect the secrets of a long life are muddled in with the secrets of a good life. With all of the challenges thrown at my Mom, she always chose to make the best of it. To soldier on. To fight to be happy another day.
She has outlived all of her friends and most of her family. Almost ninty six and honest to God I have never heard her complain about her life. She never had the money to travel or go to restaurants or drink expensive wine. Anything she was missing in life she got from her books. Until last week she was still reading a book a day.
But she is done. She no longer wants to fight. No more tests or prodding or drugs or blood pressure tests. She wants to call it a day. My brother quite rightly expects it’s because she can’t read anymore… she is too tired. The definitive moment in my mothers life.. when reading a book brings no joy.
So perhaps living a good life includes having a good death. To part this world on your own terms. When the fight is gone but the comfort of knowing you made the best of every opportunity will be your legacy. When your children and grandchildren only ever speak of you with love and respect. That, what was important to you is important to them…
I have spent fifty nine and two thirds years with this woman (I am not sixty yet!) and except for my wild teen years, we have always been honest with each other. I know her wishes, she knows she can trust me to make them so. She has always been there for me. On more occasions than I can count she came to my aid. It’s what Mothers do. I have always promised to be with her for this passage. That we would do it together. If at all possible. I will be there. It’s the very least
I can do