I do not go to church. Well, I don’t go to church as a worshipper; I have on occasion gone to church for other reasons. Today was one of those occasions. It’s Easter Sunday, and quite coincidentally, it is the last Sunday that Marsha, my comrade in embracing the Elder Orphan lifestyle, conducted the Handbell Choir at her church. She’s been doing it for over seven years, and that today was her last time was an occasion that I felt I needed to support, and applaud.
I know some of the other members of her congregation. They have been my clients and my friends over the past four years, and it was nice to be able to say farewell to them. I shared a wonderful moment with one in particular, a man whose beloved wife passed away from a brain tumor four years ago this May. For six months from her initial diagnosis until she needed to be in a medical care facility, I gave daily care to her and afforded him that opportunity to get some rest and have some social time away from the house. I think that he and I were both surprised at how much emotion we each still carry at the bonding that formed between the three of us as it became evident through our shared tears. I hate using trite phrases, but sometimes they are true and perfectly fit the circumstance; this was indeed a heartfelt moment.
As I wander through my own life, I forget that I have had a good effect on other people’s lives. It’s nice to be reminded that, yes, something good came out of this or that situation even though I didn’t see the fullness of it in the moment.
A few days ago, in the process of packing for the move to the Pacific Northwest, I came across a letter from a student that I had at my last teaching post. Written four years ago almost to the day, the student wrote of the inspiration I gave through the story-telling I used as a teaching tool, and how she would carry that with her as she embarked upon a career as a Massage Therapist. “You inspire with your gift,” she wrote, “and the genuine love for what you do…” In the significant managerial changes that took place in the workings of the school and caused me to become disheartened and leave, I had only hoped that what I had been able to accomplish in the time I had been there was positive. Over time, I began to dwell more on the feeling of having failed somehow, and forgot to savor the connections with my students. The student’s letter continues, “…and that comes across in the positive way that you are willing to help guide your students to becoming the greatest Massage Therapists that they can be.”
Why is it so much easier to remember the times that were difficult so much more easily than the times that brought us joy—or even those times when we were able to bring joy to others? In the scale of life and karma, the former is so much smaller than the latter.
As Kyle was recently going through the separation and divorce from the woman he has loved so deeply, I was able to support him in ways that I would not have been able to had I not gone through the same thing myself with his father. And I believe that he now has a clearer understanding of what I went through having had to tread a very similar path. My hope is that I have modeled for him the ways in which one can survive and surpass, moving forward in to the future. Slowly, over time, the hard and thorny bits of time will be softened and smoothed by all the good that is to come.
As I was raising Kyle, there were so many times when I heard myself saying things that my parents had said, or at least understanding why they had said or done what they had. Now, too, I have crossed another threshold and I am gaining the understanding of what my parents tried to explain to me as they became Elders. The perspective from here is so much different. If you aren’t here yet, I can only say that I will nod my head knowingly when you come to this phase of realization; and if you are here, I am smiling with the knowing that we have this common understanding.