How do you want to be remembered? Who are you becoming as you age? In my “career” as a caregiver, I’ve met so many bitter old women and have determined I don’t want to be one. (Bitter that is, not old…)
I was thinking recently of Lila Lee, my mom’s best friend from childhood. She and Mom played together as children in Kansas and they remained best friends for over 80 years, even though they hadn’t lived near one another since high school. I only met Lila Lee a few times over the years, but each visit was a delight. A kindergarten teacher, she was single until her 40s. She wore brightly colored, flamboyant clothes and found joy in everything. She was fun.
In her last 20 years, she developed multiple sclerosis. She struggled on as long as she could, but for the last few years was bed ridden in a second floor condo. Her husband died in the next room and there was nothing she could do. She had caregivers who came in for a few hours per day. Otherwise, she was alone. And yet, she always had a positive outlook. Always had joy. Always was positive. Never complained, no matter how difficult her life was, no matter how much pain she was in.
When our son was married several years ago, we were able to take Mom for a visit to Lila Lee. We were happy to battle the southern California traffic to make sure they got time together. Because of her care constraints, they only had a couple of hours together, but they yakked non-stop, knowing it would be their last visit. I’m so glad we were able to give them that time together.
I’ve always admired Lila Lee’s joyful attitude in her good years and her bad years. So many older women facing such limitations whine and complain about their lot in life. They live in dread and misery, and make everyone around them miserable in the process. Not Lila Lee. She lived joyfully until the day she died.
While most people are governed by their feelings, the reality is, we can choose our behavior and our feelings will follow. Lila Lee pursued joy, trusted God, and found contentment in whatever circumstance she was in. One of my wise friends reminds me that we are now becoming the old women we will be. I want to follow Lila Lee’s example. I want to be a delightful old woman.