My mom lives in rural North Carolina in the home she came to as a bride in 1949. Since my father’s death eight years ago, she has lived there alone. There are no neighbors within view and she loves the tranquility of that. It is her fervent wish to stay put as long as possible. This determination reinforces her practices of walking every day (indoors to Big Band music if the weather is bad,) eating well, and following her doctors’ commands.
The compounding losses and physical miseries that accompany the privilege of reaching the age of ninety affect my mom, yet she consciously refuses self-pity. She is a realist with a strong faith in God and a ready sense of humor. Her approach to daily life is infused with gratitude. She notices the gifts that come her way without any rigid expectations that would set her up for disappointment. On a daily basis, she expresses her deep joy in nature, pointing out a pileated woodpecker, a nesting barn swallow in her carport, deer tracks. I cannot count the number of times she has paused and said to me, “Just look at that! We are so blessed to live here!”
The other thing that sustains my mom consistently is her determination to make a contribution in whatever way she can. She thinks up thoughtful things she can do or say that would support or aid others and carries them out. There are many people who love my mom, but none more than her grandchildren. She taught all ten to drive by accompanying them as they aimed between trees in her wooded yard. Her overall attitude to life was probably summed up as she told each nervous teen, “Remember, I love you more than I love my car!”