By the time I had to become responsible for my 85-year-old mother, I was 'fortified.' She and I had never had a good relationship - too much alike.After I graduated from seminary, I spent another year in an Advanced Clinical Pastoral Care Education at a major hospital, and part of my time was spent at the senior area, being with those who were completely cognizant to those with mild to serious mental and physical impairment. I served churches with elder populations, and was usually the one to visit, etc.At this time of my life - having just turned 76 - I see each day of my life as a gift. I am very healthy and still very active, yet I am well aware of possibilities for change, so I have all my affairs in order, and have fixed living wills, etc., so that others with less responsibilities can take over, so my children, with young children, willl not have to stop their lives for me. They are aware and appreciative of this.I'm with Gross on the idea of long-term illness before dying: I definitely don't like that idea. To a certain extent, I'm with Woody Allen, who once said, "I'm not afraid of dying; I just don't want to be there when it happens." I'm not afraid of death at all; it does bother me that, even though I can't hike the mountains, I really hate the thought of possibly being wheel-chair bound.As to demensia: I think that, if it progresses, will bother my children and grandchildren more than me. Maria Shriver has written a good book about her experiences there.My theology/philosophy at this time in my life is: find something funny to laugh about, find something to learn more about; be aware of the value of each moment, each visit with family and friends, and look with love at this beautiful world around us.
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