Monday, January 14, 2013


David Hayward - “the need to leave” (watercolor on paper, 7″x10″)

...of age
...of arthritis
...of energy
...of time

Contrary to the words of the poet, it is not, as they say, least not yet for me and may require a lengthy period of adjustment.  I think of Walter Cronkite's sign-off, "And that's the way it is."  Except for loosening of time constraints, the other limitations are unlikely to change for the better.  The task is to keep them at bay for as long as possible, so they don't worsen too quickly.  And what is too quickly?  Well, too quickly to suit me, who doesn't care for the limitations at all.

At the age of 78, I'm bound to think of mortality and view the future as somewhat compressed, right?  Some folks, like Grandpère, live in denial of the reality of death, but when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 51, I looked death in the face, and there was no turning back to denial.  To me, it's both funny and tragic when people deny death.  I'll never forget the time I told GP, "The death rate is 100%," and he said, "For whom?"  My black humor did not go over well.

Anyway, I'm easing into a completely different mindset about life in general and my own life.  There are so many things that I want to do and so many changes that I want to see happen before I die, but I know I will not do or see most of them, and I must come to acceptance and ease with the reality.  The difficulty is to sort out the priorities of what is still possible to do and move out of stasis.

If you detect a pinch of depression in my diary post, you are probably correct.  It's there lurking at the edge, but I've not yet fully acknowledged and accepted it yet.  We've experienced a good deal of turmoil and distress in our extended family, and, though the situations have improved, I feel I'm allowed a bit of depression now that things are looking up...if that makes any sense.  My depression is not severe, the descent into a black hole sort, so I carry on in hopes that this, too, shall pass.

To all that I've written here, I must add that it's my faith that lifts me and carries me.  The knowledge that I have praying friends who will support me through the tough times, is of inestimable value.  Without my sense of God's presence, I'd face all of what happened recently and all of what's going on now with much more angst, (though angst there was and is) and much less equanimity, and so I say, "Thanks be to God."
You’ve got your limitations; let them sing,
And all your life will waken with a cry:
Why should you halt when rapture’s on the wing
And you’ve no limit but the cloud-flocked sky?...

(From "Limitations" by Siegfried Sassoon)
Easy for you to say at the age of 34, Sassoon, but not so easy to practice when you're 78.  Still, the thought is worth a place in my mind, and the ideal is worth a reach.

The lovely painting at the head of the post is by David Hayward aka nakedpastor.   He posted the painting noting that it was available for purchase.  I waited a few days, but I found the painting irresistible and bought it.  In the poem beneath the painting, David says:
You’ve kept your place. You’ve held your ground. You’ve filled your space. You’ve stayed in bounds.
But something calls. You know you must. You forsake all. You will be blessed.
It’s time to go. It’s time to leave. This much you know: this is your peace.
The wonderful painting caused me to reflect on life, how we are always in motion, leaving and forsaking, traveling, and arriving at new places and eventually led to this post, for better or for worse.


Ann said...

Prayers surrounding you and bearing you up as you walk through these days.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Thanks, Ann, for being amongst those whose support I count on.

johnieb said...

Sassoon was an English Infantry officer in WWI; I am less sure about your reading of the lines you quote. I reckon, at 34, he had been through all that. I used to own, and tried to read, his "Memoirs of an Infantry Officer", technically not a memoir but a novel, but found it confusing.

I'm not so far behind you in age, and do wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the ease with which I accept reality now and even thirty years ago. Twenty years, if my strength is exceptional, which hasn't exactly been the case, seems much too short.

Thank you for your example, and for bringing Sassoon back to mind.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Johnieb, perhaps I did not credit Sasson's service in the Great War enough and focused too much on his age - youth to me. He did, indeed, have much reason for cynicism, and yet he wrote the poem so full of hope.

I have not read his book.

it's margaret said...

I, too, know that compressed feeling, if for no other reason than the reality of death which is such a plain force here. This is a beautiful, even if bittersweet post, Grandmere. And, yes, it's amazing how the adrenalin keeps one going through the crisis, and the look back is what can hit hard --throw one off balance. I am confident of the hope you know and seek --and that life is always full of grace. You continue to inspire many --thank you Grandmere.

johnieb said...

Check out his Wiki page. After being decorated for valour, (his troops called him "mad Jack") he refused to return to a war he believed was misguided and wrong. Instead of court-martial, he received treatment for "Shellshock", an early term for PTSD.

"Compressed feeling". Exactly, Margaret, thank you for recalling my attention to it.

Grandmère Mimi said...

margaret, one could hardly be where you are and deny the reality of death, as you experience such great numbers, especially of what we think of as untimely deaths.

Adrenalin is amazing, but it takes its toll in the long run. What I feel is a stronger tug on the thread of melancholy that is/was always present in my life as far back as I can remember. Thank you for your kind words, m'dear.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Johnieb, I read the Wiki entry on Sassoon. I certainly sold him short in my post. It's a wonder he emerged from his war experience alive and with even a measure of sanity, much more the ability to write such a lovely poem.

Bex said...

I was thinking PTSD when I read your post. I believe it's a much more common reaction than we recognize. Hang in there so that I can bombard you with more of the wacky stuff I find on the internet!

Grandmère Mimi said...

I expect that I won't lack for several helpful diagnoses from the mental health experts amongst my readers. Bex, yours has the honor of being the first. :-)

Nij said...

Grateful I am that in the fairly recent past I was part of a meditation group that met at Brown U. and I learned some Buddhist teachings. One teaching that resonated with me, and still does, is called "The Five Remembrances". At fist I thought it a negative thing, but now, at 80, and acknowledging 2 chronic illnesses, I find it true and comforting, helping me to realize that my life flows as does everyone else's life - part of the whole of creation.

"I will loose my youth, my health, my loved ones, everything I hold dear and finally life itself by the very nature of being human".

It takes a bit of meditating on one's own life and losses to realize that that's how it goes......

We love you blog, thanks fo sharing.


Grandmère Mimi said...

Nij, I Googled the five remembrances:

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill heath.
There is no way to escape having ill health.

I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature of change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My deeds are my closest companions.
I am the beneficiary of my deeds.
My deeds are the ground on which I stand.

So true, Nij. And we pray to the living God for the courage and grace to go on in the face of those realities.

Thank you for your kind words.

Prairie Soul said...

I've nothing clever or particularly helpful to say. Just wanted to send you a virtual hug for being all that you are. You taken that thread of melancholy and have woven a lovely tapestry. You're a wonderful writer and a kind friend to so many of us so many miles away.

JCF said...


"One Day at a Time"

Grandmère Mimi said...

Thanks for the virtual hug and the lovely words, Prairie Soul. Writing the post was good for my soul.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Thanks for the hugs, JCF. That's how I day at a time.