God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. Voltaire
I am taking break from the road to Spokane today to enjoy my 59th birthday. (Don’t tell anyone, but I am going bowling again!) Oh, but don’t worry, writing of chapter 3 is in earnest (please believe me) and I suspect that my professor and mentor at Gonzaga University will have an update for me to do on chapter 2 before this weekend is over.
One of the greatest things about being the youngest of six, is that no matter how old I get, I will always be the youngest! When I was younger, I always thought it was a disadvantage to be the youngest. But through the years, my philosophy on that has changed. As I get older, my thoughts on the aging has changed, too. That is why I love Voltaire’s quote: “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”
My sister Mary has the best philosophy
of life, she decided, long ago, to stay 29. I think she might be on her 43rd year of being 29, but who’s counting and why does it matter? She happily tells everyone that she has kids that are older than her. It’s all about mind over matter, because age is only a number, it is how you feel that makes the difference.
Aging takes on a different meaning for each one of us. Some of us are old when we are young: Some of us are young when we are old. When Richard’s illness progressed, people were surprised to learn
of his age. His age never showed until the last six months of his life. Richard lived life to the fullest, he did not let any grass grow underneath his feet. Throughout his entire life, he gave himself the gift of living well. I always admired him for his philosophy on life. He took no prisoners.
As caregivers we often forget that our first job is to take good care of ourselves. This mindset is not selfish, remember “it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” In the hustle and bustle of caring for someone else, we tend to lose sight of ourselves. I know it happen to me, and I would be willing to bet that losing yourself in the midst of caregiving happened to you too. In retrospect, I know that my inability to take better care of myself while in the midst of caregiving, has made life after caregiving more difficult. Thankfully, I can make the choice to give myself the gift of living well.
Birthday’s come and go, some have more meaning than others. No matter how long I live, I will always admire my sibling for their graceful aging. Additionally, I will always remember greeting Richard in the doctors office on my 57th birthday to find him sitting there with balloons tied to his chair, waiting for me to arrive so that he could surprise me with his big birthday splash…. It’s a memory etched in stone.
There is much to live, love and laugh when celebrating another birthday, because its not about the number you obtain on your special day, it is about giving ourselves the gift to live well every day..
Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving?” and the host of “Healing Ties” Radio on Spreaker and UK Health Live