Late Summer 2007

Dear Friends

I've just come from a weekend visit to my 101-year-old Aunt Flo. Flo's probably the smartest, most independent woman I know, and it's been hard to watch her grow old. Not as hard as it's been for her to grow old, though, I am sure.

Her story's pretty typical. She lived alone for many years, handling everything herself: her financial affairs, negotiating with contractors, volunteering at church, buying a new car, remembering birthdays with cards and checks, etc. Then, over the years, she started to go blind, and life got messier as she had to depend on others. When she started to go deaf, communication became more challenging. A hip replacement was her only bow to nature's insistence that her body might need some help holding up. She pretty much never took a pill in her life, and a 20-year-old bottle of Tylenol was the only medicine in her medicine cabinet.

Then came ''the fall'' and, to make a long story short, she is now in a nursing home. My strong, independent, brilliant Aunt Flo sits in a wheelchair in her own soundless and sightless world and she's given up on almost everything. Except strawberry hot fudge sundaes, bless her heart. I hate seeing her like this. I spent about 15 hours with her over the weekend and am weary of screaming my end of the conversation into her left ear and hearing the same paranoia-driven story of how her doctor is holding her captive and I am paying the staff not to talk to her. She keeps asking me why she has lived so long and I tell her I just don't know.

Though weary, I am grateful for how this experience has softened my edges. I look at Flo and the other residents and imagine what they were like 50 years ago. They had families, dinner parties, gardens, their own worries and joys. Their skin was smooth, their minds were clear, their legs worked fine, and they could chew whatever food they wanted to chew. They were like I am, now. Being with Flo reminds me to be more empathic, just as I will want someone to be with me years from now. It reminds me that seasons turn into years and years turn into decades, whether we realize it or not. It reminds me that bodies and minds can turn into strangers and there's little we can do about it. And it reminds me that we are all in this together, just at different stages in our lives. Most of all, it reminds me to be more compassionate. This probably isn't the legacy Aunt Flo had in mind, but I'm more grateful to her for this than for anything else we've shared.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

From our archives -- The Art of Imperfection

From our archives -- Saddle Up

From our archives -- Taking Ourselves Off Automatic

Early Summer 2014 -- Embracing our Dormant Times

From our archives -- Taking Time to Listen

Late Spring 2014 -- Seeing More Clearly

Spring 2014 -- Savor What Makes Your Heart Sing

Early Spring 2014 -- The Power of Quotes

From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

Holiday 2013 -- Taking the Time to Listen

Holiday 2013 -- Open our Hearts to the Good Around Us

Fall 2013 -- How to Cope in Tough Times

Late Summer 2013 - The Priceless Gift of Friendship

Midsummer 2013 -- My Luck is Pretty Good Luck

Early Summer 2013 -- Slow Down Enough to Smile

Late Spring 2013 -- Recognizing Gifts

Spring 2013 -- Doing the Best We Can

Early Spring 2013 -- Know Where You're Going

Holiday 2012 -- Our Power to Adapt

Fall 2012 -- Gratitude for What We Have

Early Fall 2012 -- See the Beauty in Front of Us

Late Summer 2012 -- Modify So It Works for You

Summer 2012 -- Finding Balance

Early Summer 2012 -- Go Ahead and Take that Risk!

Late Spring 2012 - Trusting Your Gut

Spring 2012 - Living Life to the Fullest

Early Spring 2012 - New Year, No Excuses

Winter 2011 - A Thoughtful Tip

Holiday 2011 - How Did I Get Here?

Fall 2011 - Giving Thanks for What We Already Have

Late Summer 2011 - Taking Ourselves Off Automatic

Midsummer 2011 - Friends Through Thick and Thin

Early Summer 2011 - The Power of Nice

Late Spring 2011 - The Gifts of Spring

Spring 2011 - Worst Case Scenario

Early Spring 2011 - Break Away From the Herd

Winter 2010 - Lessons From Feral Kitty

Holiday 2010 - The Art of Imperfection

Fall 2010 - When the Student is Ready...

Late Summer 2010 - Saddle Up

Midsummer 2010 - Hurry Up and Wait

Early Summer 2010 - Don't Just Stand There. Do Something!

Late Spring 2010 - Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Taking That First Step

Early Spring 2010 - I Think it's Time

Winter 2009 - Choose Love, Not Fear

Holiday 2009 - Paying it Forward

Fall 2009 - You're Not Alone

Late Summer 2009 - "Searching" for Peace

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