Isn’t it strange how burdens, over time, become some of our fondest memories? Sometimes the most difficult stages in our lives produce some of the most magical moments…moments we would never have had if it weren’t for the challenging circumstances enveloping the tough reality of a particular time period with a loved one.
No doubt for me…this was mother’s last years at the Presbyterian Village fighting dementia, confusion, and limited mobility due to a stroke. I remember overhearing mother and Aunt Eva (her sister) talk continuously throughout Eva’s visits… about not wanting to live past their ability to be independent and keep an active role in their family’s lives. Neither woman wanted to give up their homes or apartments in exchange for a institutional type environment. Neither woman got her wish.
Dementia and a stroke changed mother’s life radically and quickly…leaving neither one of us time to make the emotional adjustment. Still…when it came down to the moment of decision, it was mother who told me it was time to go to the Presbyterian Home (as it was known then) because she had woken up that day and not known where she was. If there was one thing she wanted to avoid more than nursing home it was not being a burden on me or my brother.
With my brother living away and me, as a single parent, still teaching…with children at home…the choices back then were very limited…especially with college tuitions looming and monetary resources limited.
Looking back on it….mother’s tough decision to do what she never wanted to do….was one of the most selfless beautiful acts of courage I ever witnessed….if we had put off this decision, even a few months, mother would not have gotten in…her stroke came less than half a year following her entrance.
Emotionally…it was tough…there is no way to sugar-coat it…but some of the most intimate beautiful moments we shared as a mother -daughter (even though mother struggled with my name) still makes me smile today. There was no pretense between us…it was like we were just really close friends who depended on each other and learned to love the ducks and ponds around the facility…giving names to several of our favorites… We lived in our own time cocoon completely unaware of the outside world for a few precious hours.
I probably learned more about life going through this experience that I ever have before or since….and my burdens were always lifted when we could still share a smile together.
I had forgotten about this little legend but I came across it yesterday and knew it was the perfect story for today.
BURDENS GIVE US WINGS
An old legend relates that long ago God had a great many burdens which He wished to have carried from one place to another on earth, so He asked the animals to lend a hand. But all of them began to make excuses for not helping: the elephant was too dignified; the lion, too proud; and so on. Finally the birds came to God and said, “If you will tie the burdens into small bundles, we’ll be glad to carry them for you. We are small but we would like to help.”
So God fastened upon the back of each one a small bundle, and they all set out walking across the plain to their destination. They sang as they went, and did not seem to feel the weight of their burdens at all. Every day the burdens seemed lighter and lighter, until the loads seems to be lifting the birds, instead of the birds carrying the burdens.
When they arrived at their destination, they discovered that when they removed their loads, there were wings in their place, wings which enabled them to fly to the sky and the tree tops.
They had learned how to carry their burdens, and their loads had become wings to carry them nearer to God. Burdens we carry for others may become wings of the spirit, to lift us into happiness such as we have never known.
So until tomorrow…Let us look at how we define a “burden”…if we look at the situation from different lenses…we come to see potential “burdens” as beautiful gifts of precious moments with someone we love. Someone who was once there for us when we needed them.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
*I was so lucky yesterday when I went to see one of my guardian angels, Harriett Edwards, (from my early breast cancer days) because she was surrounded with grandchildren and Rebecca was home, her daughter who is my own daughter Mandy’s age. They went through school together.
We had such fun catching up. (I also taught Rebecca in the eighth grade…though, honestly, we could have exchanged desks…she was and is just that smart!)
Like me Harriett had been diagnosed with breast cancer once too… but in her case cancer-free for 13 years. Unfortunately “little c” has come knocking on her door again… under a different disguise…but Harriett is taking no prisoners. She is on top of it and hope is not only alive and well…but laughing and enjoying the grandchildren.
She named her New Year Calendar (2019) “Hope” and marks off each day of treatment with a heart…a very big heart!
We had such fun going down memory lane and getting caught up with each other’s lives. Harriett and I are both so blessed to have so many amazing grandchildren.
*In the picture above you see two of them! On the right is one of Rebecca’s beautiful girls…Rhett Caroline Gray and on the left is Frankie’s “tiny tiny” – little Miss Maggie Belle Watson. They are adorable and the best medicine around…right Harriett!