This and That

DSC_8975Perhaps if I can unravel some random thoughts, I might then clean my house.

End-of-life discussion: We recently had a conversation with a group of informed friends which has shoved its way into the front of my thoughts every day since. One book referenced was Jennifer Worth’s (of Call the Midwife fame) memoir In the Midst of Life. I want to blog about it once I’ve corralled my thoughts. Before that talk, my husband and I sat down to each fill out an Advance Directive, thinking we could accomplish this task in twenty minutes. Whoa!! We are different. Those ADs still sit on my desk….

Survivor: We’re having lunch with my mom’s brother, my one remaining uncle, next week. He is sensible to the position he holds, as repository of family lore, and is actively sending me photos and information. He exudes good cheer and laughter, turning a pun, teasing himself, loving life. When we talked on the phone this morning, he was preparing to plant potatoes.

Hunger Games:  Curt’s co-worker really wanted Curt to listen to HG so they could talk about them. In a throwback to the early days of marriage, we have cleaned up the kitchen (or not), turned the lights off, sat on a comfortable chair in our living room, and listened to a few chapters each night.

Later one night, we enumerated the allusions to the Roman Empire. Curt then said one word: Panem. But he thought he was saying: Pan Am.
I, thinking how fun it was to have pillow talk in Latin, replied et circenses.
Huh? a perplexed husband.
Bread and circuses, I expatiated.
What??
You said “bread”, I said “and circuses.” You know! Rome! Entertain the masses.
Babe, I thought the city was Pan Am...like Pan American, or something.
And the laughter from that exchange was propelled me through the week.

Follow the threads and look what you find: I’m slogging through Stephen Ambrose’s Eisenhower Volume II: The President. Confused, I needed to differentiate the Dulles brothers: Foster Dulles—the DC airport is named after him—was Ike’s Secretary of State, and his brother, Allen Dulles, was head of the CIA. I’m forever curious about famous people’s children. Foster Dulles’ son, Avery Dulles, (1918-2008) was a Jesuit priest who has piqued my interest. His farewell “speech” (read by another because of his loss of speech) includes these words:

Suffering and diminishment are not the greatest of evils but are normal ingredients in life, especially in old age. They are to be expected as elements of a full human existence.

Well into my 90th year I have been able to work productively. As I become increasingly paralyzed and unable to speak, I can identify with the many paralytics and mute persons in the Gospels, grateful for the loving and skillful care I receive and for the hope of everlasting life in Christ. If the Lord now calls me to a period of weakness, I know well that his power can be made perfect in infirmity. “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

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9 thoughts on “This and That

  1. Powerful quote at the end. He’s really learnt a few things in his 90 years. I hope I can be as gracious & have a proper perspective when I get on in years.

    • Me too, Carol! Another huge example to me has been Elisabeth Elliot Gren: she is living her life motto—with acceptance comes peace—with dementia. If I had my druthers, I’d rather lose my voice than my mind. I try to frame the little things, e.g. a two-week cold, as pop quizzes for the big stuff to come later.

  2. Hello Carol, I read Jennifer Worth’s book “In The Midst of Life” and it affected me deeply.

    Have you read it? There are some long descriptions here and there but over all it is a wonderful overview of her experiences, observations and beliefs, as well as peeks into the lives of ground-breaking women in medicine and the dying (Elizabeth K. Ross (from Switzerland!) and another woman (whose name I can’t recall) who began the Hospice movement).

    I found the book hopeful and sobering all at once.

    When my husband first came over to Europe to work in 2005, we sat down and completed our ADs and got the wills updated. I remember feeling a great weight lifted, having it documented – plus telling our daughters and our son-in-law the details and where to find the ADs. Making a big move gives you a kick in the pants in these kinds of issues 😉

    • Susan, it is on my TBR list. I guess I have to buy it first! My friend that read it didn’t agree with all of Worth’s thoughts but highly recommended her book for stirring up thoughts. As a nurse, our friend has seen death many times and noted how the emotional delay of certain decisions actually prolonged the pain the patient bore.

      We didn’t get a will made until we traveled to England, but I’m so glad that gave us the kick we needed. The most concerning part for me back twenty years was who would raise our kids if we both died. Now that they are grown, it’s only money, and we don’t have much.

      • I ordered a 2nd hand copy from an amazon bookseller in the UK. I was am a very uncritical reader (unless someone is just plain blasphemous) and nothing the author said rankled with me. I believe her reflections from the beginning of her career and how death touched her own family were the most touching for me.

  3. Carol, this entry reminded me of a fun time I had years ago. My husband’s university dept. invited a nobel prize winner to come speak and his wife came with him. She was delightful and wanted to go to the big university down the road from us to see John Foster Dulles’ office from his time as the secretary of state for Ike. So, I volunteered to take her. The office was set up exactly as it had been when he was working in DC, but is no longer there. The university center now has different exhibits in that area. I am not sure I realized at the time what a special privilege that was for me. We were not allowed to take pictures, so I only have those hazy memories. Life presents opportunity daily and I am glad I was able to take that one. love and prayers, jep

  4. What an opportunity, jep! I have some friends (on the border between friends and acquaintances) who were friends with Ike and Mamie. I lent them this book; when they returned it they had a contact sheet printed with pictures of them with the Eisenhowers. It was delightful to hear their memories. I felt so privileged to have only one step between Ike and me.

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