Staying in Focus: Lessons from the Oldest and the Newest

The Oldest:

My 92 year old mom came up for the Labor Day Weekend, and we were having a great time until she took a fall in the bathroom . As she is on blood thinning meds we lost no time in taking her to the hospital. Fortunately, she did not break any bones, just deeply bruised a rib. She had been planning to go home the next day, but ended up staying a week. She was in a lot of pain, and the only place she could get any rest at all was on our couch.

But trooper that she is, she took this in stride, just as she had when fighting breast cancer, enduring two mastectomies and taking as much chemo as she could stand. She experiences a lot of fatigue, has an atrial fibrillation condition with her heart, and all the aches and pains that accompany old age – but she doesn’t let it stop her. I’m not saying she doesn’t have bad days or get depressed, but when she finds herself tending in that direction, she heads another way

A few days after she returned home, she called me up and said she was” turning over a new leaf” . My mom is an extraordinary housekeeper. She can still run rings around me when it comes to a clean, neat and tidy home. In her mind, she believes she should be able to keep the pace she had 40 years ago. She told me she decided from now on, she would do things in her home on her good days, and just take it easy on the off days, and not get upset if everything wasn’t perfect all the time.

Alleluia! She then proudly announced she had retrieved her fall decorations from the closet and was in the process of decorating her house for the fall season. My mother’s ability to find delight in decorating her house, and satisfaction in being able to keep up with most of her chores at 92 are what keep her connected to life. She still gets her hair done every Friday, has lunch out with friends often, and is currently cross stitching ornaments for Christmas. I hope I have inherited some of this strength.

The Newest:

On September 25th, my niece, Jeanette, gave birth to a  very premature baby. Arriving 15 weeks early, and weighing in at only 1 lb. 6 oz, little Ben Gerard came into this world with a host of obstacles to overcome. But it seems little Ben has inherited his great grandmother’s strength of character, as he fights to stay with us. He is 10 days old, has become strong enough to be weaned off the breathing machine and is breathing on his own with only an oxygen mask. His vital signs are good, the doctors have increased his feeding times and Jeanette and her husband, Jared, had a chance to hold him for the first time today.

This very tiny person has many hills to climb in the weeks ahead, but he has demonstrated to everyone that he’s got the strength and determination to try, just as his great grandmother has the strength and fortitude to deal with what ever comes her way. There is a connection between these two  people in my family, the very oldest and the very newest, one intent on enjoying what life can offer no matter her age, and the newest, fighting to stay in a world he has just entered, wanting to find out just what this life is all about. I hope I have a measure of the fortitude of little Ben when facing my obstacles.

We read books and watch videos about heroes and heroic acts on the grand scale, but must remember to pay attention to the heroic efforts of everyday people and the lessons to be learned from the oldest and the newest,


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