Friday, September 24, 2010

The Gossamer Curtain Up Close - Smith Meyer

On our vacation this summer, within a week, we were three times confronted with the fragility of life. Most notably, a man who had become a friend over the years, came to take my husband out for the day. He had become one of the welcome components of our visits to Alberta. The two men had started out the lane, but then returned to do one more thing. Within fifteen minutes, our friend died. We quickly called 911. In less than twenty minutes, the ambulance, rescue vehicle, fire truck and three police cars descended at our son's property, but their valiant efforts were in vain.

Questions raced through our minds. What if he had died before he came to spend the day with my husband? He would have died alone, his wife away for the day. What if he had died while driving--if he hadn't come back for that one more thing? That held bigger implications. We were poignantly reminded again--that which divides life here and the life beyond is but a gossamer curtain.

The week before, a couple not far advanced in years to our own, never arrived at their destination on the west coast. Their travel van was found burned out, but they still haven't been found. Two days after the death of our friend, we were also on our way from Alberta to Vancouver. It seemed we had barely started when, at Golden, B.C., we were directed off the highway into parking lots for a two and a half hour wait. There had been a horrible accident up ahead. Two people lost their lives. The folks at the service station and Tim Horton's told us that the day before, in almost exactly the same place, three others had perished. Because of our close connection to one death already that week, we felt the present ones more keenly-they heightened our awareness of each moment of our days. The beauty we encountered driving through the mountains then, seemed even more breath-taking and exquisite; the time with family and friends in that week doubly precious.

Often unexpected experiences or a crisis will initiate changes in our lives. Just recently I realized that my life stages and significant learning times can often be connected to a book I read. Those readings often coincide with what is going on in my life as well.

In light of my summer, You COULD Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? by Lyndsay Green, a Canadian writer, came at the right time. Peter Mansbridge writes of the book, "We're not just living longer, but we're dying longer and that fact is the basis for Lyndsay Green's important new book. If you're betting you are going to be a part of the live-longer and live-better crowd, and let's be frank, we all want to be, then whether you're twenty, sixty or anywhere in between you better read this. It's full of advice, really good advice, that you'll be grateful you took when you hit those golden plus years."

I was barely into the book when I realized it was going to change my life. Aunt Jean's proactive ways and enthusiasm for life had me hooked in the introduction and kept me in her grasp right through to the end! Having worked with seniors (or elders as Green calls that age group) I have seen the difference between those who stay active and those who don't--physically, mentally and emotionally. I have seen the disparity in those who take charge of their own affairs as they age, planning ahead for the necessary changes, and those who fight the changes only to have their family step in to make decisions when they are obviously needed.

There's quite a wave of people on the verge of the elder years, getting closer to that gossamer curtain. We would be wise to make plans for ourselves and prepare not only our homes and finances, but our emotions, attitudes and relationship with God, so we can indeed live well in our dying years. (Read the book and that statement will excite you instead of making you feel gloom.) Good books help--and this is one!

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences - as nigh on tragic as they were ("nigh on tragic" in the sense that you and your hubby were close in place and time to the events, although you yourselves were providentially not subjects of those tragedies). What an awful situation you were confronted with in the death of your friend, and yet you were there for him - surely in the plan of God.
In "The Gossamer Curtain ..." you've brought us an important message.

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