I spent a day with my mother, Sarah Esther (Essie, pictured below with my sister Annie) at her nursing home in Sydney recently. She is approaching 80, blind, and incapacitated with the final stages of Parkinson’s disease. In these closing stages, even swallowing is difficult. When one can no longer swallow foodstuffs, even when pureed, important decisions need to be made by family members regarding feeding through a tube in the stomach, or allowing nature to finally take its inevitable toll.
American humourist and lecturer Josh Billings (otherwise known as Henry Wheeler Shaw, 1818–1885) said, obviously in a youthful moment, ‘It is not all bad, this getting old, ripening. After the fruit has got its growth it should juice up and mellow. God forbid I should live long enough to ferment and rot and fall to the ground in a squash.’
Well Josh, God forbid indeed. Growing old is no fun, nor is disease, nor is death. I wonder whether you had this same perspective closer to your final weeks and days? It’s just as well death is merely a closing of one chapter of the very long book of life.
I take solace in this ancient wisdom: “For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, undying and eternal. He is not slain when the body is slain…As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones”. (Bhagavad-gita)
Posted by Kurma on 8/6/06; 6:33:57 AM