Many mornings of my life these days start about forty-five before sunrise with my mom texting me from next door .
Then I get out of bed, slip on some comfortable, weather appropriate clothes, find some socks and my tennis shoes and sneak out the door. Mom meets me at my car with some coffee and we drive to Guthrie Lake for our morning walk.
I hardly ever regret getting up for that.
Usually, it’s a beautiful way to start my day washed with peace and grace.
This morning was the first crisp, fall-like morning of the season. Mist was heavy on the water. We were surrounded by fluid, soft gray-to-golden fog. It was perfect.
And Mom took this picture…
I know what I was feeling the moment this picture was taken.
Overwhelming gratefulness to be in that place. At that moment. Smallness at being surrounded by such beauty and peace. Amazement at the work of the Creator, and His goodness to us for the gifts He puts around for us to enjoy.
I felt ALIVE…because it’s fall and the air was chilly and comfortable and revitalizing.
But I look at the picture, and feel kind of fascinated..
I see an aging woman. Misty grayness is part of me as well as the air around me. But more than that…I see that I am a different person than I was seven years ago.
Because seven years of care taking will change a person.
It’s not just the graying hair. (Though talking about a society that makes us feel that we need to be “brave” to let our hair go gray is an interesting conversation to me.)
I am older. I went into this “young” and now I am “middle-aged”. I have had very little time to myself in the last seven years. I feel I have let so many things go, and my life revolves around a tiny old woman who is a bit of a tyrant.
I have never had a clear dream for my life. Definitely expectations, but no set goals or plans or passions or dreams. I think I’ve let go of all expectations, and live with a constant drive to get through this day, and someday…in another chapter….things will be different.
I do remember growing up I would pray, “Help me to be nothing. Help me to surrender my life completely to you. Let me be content. Help me to love the unlovable.” And I distinctly recall saying that if I could think of one thing that would make me happy to do in this life, it would be to “help people” somehow.
Be careful what you pray for! 🙂
It’s interesting for me to realize that out of my five sister-in-law’s, only Erin knew me before I was a care taker. When I was the “social one”…the extrovert… and planned parties and traveled and could talk easily with anyone I met. When I was willing to volunteer for just about anything and was always busy with something.
I am not that anymore. Now it’s just easier to say no to everything. And I get uncomfortable around people. And tired. I feel that I spend quite a bit of my life tired. And living at the pace of a 99 year old.
But it’s not a bad place to be. There is good in this. I am in a calmer place than I have ever been in my life. I feel resigned most days. Not in a depressed, “woe is me” kind of way but in a “I don’t have to think about what I’m going to do with my life, because today is enough.’ way.
Some days I wonder if, when this is over, I will wake up and say “What happened to my life? Has it passed me by?” Sometimes I worry that I don’t try enough to do “extra-curricular” things and broaden my horizon a bit. But really, perhaps my life wouldn’t be that different anyway. And at least now I can be with someone who “needs” me. There is comfort in that.
So…I see an older, soberer, more peaceful woman in that photo from this morning. One who has done things she thought she couldn’t, and handled things she thought she wouldn’t. Who has learned where Grace comes from and how necessary it is to have….for herself and others. Who knows how to drink deeply of simple beauty and be content in morning sunrises. Who has surrounded herself in liquid golden grayness, and is working on learning the secret of carrying that with her throughout her days. A woman who has come to value quiet and alone time and is working on letting go of things beyond her control.
This care taking is a refining fire. And I’m thankful for the burn.