My father-in-law passed out of this life on Friday January 18th. Only 78, he was hospitalized about a week earlier. However, his decline has been of concern for us over the last several years. And his death has gotten me to thinking about my life and of course, in what I hope will be 35+ years away – at the very least, my death.
Bill’s passing last Friday really didn’t need to happen, this year. True, my f-i-l did not take care of himself. He gave up cigarettes at 60, retired from his work-life, and basically sat down. No exercise, no exploration of the world outside his front door. He stopped doing, EVERYTHING. Oh, he cut the grass and drove to the liquor store and he helped his 2nd wife care for her baby grandchildren. But he stopped living.
At the end he was in his basement apartment, sitting on his lumpy sofa, listening to Western music – while tethered to an oxygen machine. He had pneumonia, emphysema, blockages in his colon and bladder and he had dementia – creating his final stance of “I am not hungry” – therefore he wasn’t eating. And he was married to a woman who had no compassion for her elderly husband. (That is a post unto itself.)
When I was a child of 8 or 9 I had a moment of ‘knowing’… where I knew that I would live to be 88. I also knew that I would die (really dislike that word) in my sleep. YIPPEE I say to that idea. Since then I have had time to consider my options and I believe, no, I now WANT to live as long as humanly possible. My 8 y/o self could only conclude that it was possible to live to 88 – based on whatever knowledge I had about aging and death at that time. I certainly didn’t know anyone who was that old. My grandparents weren’t that old, yet. So, now I am letting the Universe know that ‘living’ longer is what I want! Take note UNIVERSE – yes, I am greedy and I want more.
So, while his passing is sad — it is not totally unexpected. What is unexpected is my inner (mean girl) voice continues to yammer at me about how horrid the 2nd wife was to her husband. I see my defect of judgement and I am ashamed. What’s more, I now have to pray for her. (Mental head slap here.) Arrrrrghhhh! Right now, in this moment, I DO NOT want to pray for her. Damn!
I see that I still have so much work to do.
I want to point at her and command compassion from her. Then my inner voice tells me to look within and see the compassion I have for those I like/love…then she asks me (in that lovely, sweet grandmotherly tone) to find compassion for her – “even though you’d rather not” – “because ultimately you will find compassion for yourself.” Ok, fine. Whatev! (Mentally stomping away.)
As I was attempting to explain the workings of forgiveness to my non-spiritual practicing husband*, forgiveness and compassion are really for the person practicing those traits, not the person those traits are directed to/at. (*Spouse has the ability to move past negative emotions in a manner that is envious. He does not allow them to take hold of his thoughts for days/weeks/months/years. So unlike the strangle-hold that I can/have maintain in my journey here in this life.)
Ultimately I will pray for her. Primarily because I know that by praying for her I “give” myself happiness and the freedom to be what I was meant to be….”a loving, compassionate person worthy of those same acts when the dark/ugly side of me shows up.”
The day is young yet – I have time to begin the process. To let the ‘mean girl’ schlep back into her dark corner.
It hasn’t happened yet.
~ PEACE Bill, PEACE ~ know that you were loved.