Thinking about mortality

There have certainly been a lot of thought-provoking events in my life this last week or so!

Yesterday, my aunt (my dad’s sister) had an accident at her home. She lived in a basement apartment at her daughter’s. Her stove was not working, so she was going upstairs to bake her birthday cake (for her 94th birthday today) in her daughter’s oven–and tripped or fell or something and fell down the basement steps. Fortunately one of her great-grandsons was there who had just completed his firefighter emergency training, and he was able to keep her calm until the ambulance arrived. Had he not been there, it would have been at least an hour before she would have been found. She was talking and laughing a bit–telling the medics where she was injured and where the pain was, so we thought that despite the severity of the injuries, she would be in the hospital for a while and then eventually would come home.

However, this morning, her body apparently had decided the injuries were too severe. The doctor said that even a 20-year-old in good health would have had a difficult time recovering–gash in her head, broken vertebrae in her neck, fractured ribs, broken pelvis. She was on life support until the family decided what to do–and this afternoon they took her off life support. That is what she would have wanted.

Aunt D may have been 94, but you wouldn’t have known it from the way she acted. She still drove, did ceramics, took the “old people!” (many of them younger than her) to church, spearheaded funeral dinners at her church…did pretty much everything she wanted to.

We laughingly called her the Energizer Bunny and joked that she would keep going until she just dropped…and she did.

Aunt D’s life was not easy–a single mother of two girls at a time when that was really difficult…a later-in-life marriage to a man who was good in many ways, but who also fought demons of alcoholism…

And yet…

She taught us so many lessons. Joy in life, regardless! She always found a way to have fun…she loved children…she loved playing games…. Perseverance! When life knocks you down, get up and start again… Caring! She didn’t always take care of her own health, but she took care of everyone else…

And now we’re down to only one member of that generation left–and in many ways we’ve already lost her to dementia.

You know that eventually you are going to become “the older generation”…but it’s still unsettling. It’s especially unsettling when the death occurs this unexpectedly and this rapidly. We’ve lost a lot of other family members, but with all but one other, we’ve seen the death coming and have had time to prepare. Somehow, it seemed like Aunt D was going to go on forever!

But nothing in life does. So I think the best lesson Aunt D taught was to live each day to its fullest. Enjoy it…appreciate what God has given you every day…go on like the Energizer Bunny as long as you can and don’t worry about when life will end. It will…but you don’t need to end it by just walking through the motions of each day.

Thanks, Aunt D…and rest in peace!

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2 thoughts on “Thinking about mortality

  1. Your article pretty much described her to a T. She was an amazing woman that always had tIme for everyone to a fault at times (her own health) She will always be remembered and loved. I was her grandson by marriage but you would have never known it. I always was treated as I was one of hers and I was!

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