I have no idea who sculpted this but it is beautiful and the image hits us all in the soul. Yes, we long for the day we will be released from our earthly body. Clearly this woman entering the pearly gates is not what she was in youth. She needs a cane. Her face is wrinkled. But the younger version of herself leaping into the arms of Jesus is spry and energetic. How old is the youthful woman—20? 16?
If we could go back to our youth what age would we choose? I know I could run faster when I was 14 than I can now. I had more stamina at 35 than now. But I am more at peace now in my mind and heart and soul than I ever even dreamed I could be when I was younger.
If we are to be frozen into a certain age in heaven I’m not so sure I want to go as a youth. Yes, a youthful body would be nice but when I had that youthful body I never stopped to appreciate what I had. Instead I worried about raising my kids, getting a promotion at work and why my husband wasn’t Superman. Not to mention worrying about Sonny and Cher’s marriage and if the Beatles would ever get back together. I was not a serene person like I am now. Remember, my New Year's resolution for 2014 is to become serene if it kills me.
Today, I seldom worry about things the way I did as a youth. About the only thing I worry about nowadays is the hole in Willie Nelson’s guitar. But the musicians I have consulted tell me it’s OK.
I kind of like the age I am now. I am far from the youthful girl entering Jesus’ arms and that’s OK. I’m less inclined to get upset by a lot of things. I have a better idea of the big picture. If I ‘m faced with a stone wall I can change directions or stop completely and just rest. I enjoy smelling the roses.
Of course, I am also medicated and that seems to have made a difference.
I went to a specialist for migraine headaches about ten years ago. Life without crippling headaches is like a resurrection of sorts. But as part of the treatment I ended up with a prescription that I found out later was an antidepressant. I was startled by this since even with a migraine I am usually the most optimistic person in the room. The doc told me anti-depressants help take the edge off a migraine when you do get one. He asked me how it was going. I told him I couldn’t say for sure if the headaches were any better but my husband’s IQ had gone up about 50 points.
And I have other friends who have experienced the same phenomena. They really should put that stuff in our drinking water. Little things like that could stop a lot of axe murders.
Beaven and I are both getting to an age where we have done most of the things we wanted to do in life. The rest is just icing on the cake. If I went to heaven tomorrow there would be no regrets.
I would like a nice funeral, though.
This morning I read one of my favorite blogs about two women farming in Minnesota. Here are the links the the two postings I'm talking about: Farm Tales & Sheepish Stories: The End of the Llama Saga and Farm Tales & Sheepish Stories: The Downside Don't stop to read them now. Come back later. Basically, their dilemma was burying a beloved animal in the frozen ground in Minnesota. I have learned you can’t bury anything, even people, in Minnesota in the winter.
One time I was trying to schedule something for two months into the future and a friend said she couldn’t do it on the date we suggested because she would be back home in Minnesota burying her mother. I had a moment’s pause, wondering how she could know her mother would be dead by then, was she planning to kill her and just hadn't gotten around to it? Maybe waiting for a sale on arsenic? Then she explained the mother was already dead but being held in a freezer somewhere until the ground in Minnesota thawed enough to dig a hole.
We try to be as respectful of the body as we can manage and digging a grave with TNT doesn’t sound very respectful.
We were tempted to do that when dear old Uncle Buster died. He had only Beaven, myself, and Beaven's cousin left to stand at the grave there in Oklahoma. We waited at a spot in a cemetery that did not as yet have a hole in it. We were waiting for the backhoe to come and dig the grave. There was some sort of horrible delay. We had Buster in his coffin there on the ground but no hole to put him in there beside Aunt Muriel. The poor guy wasn't even on one of those metal biers or carts. He was just there in his casket on the dirt. The funeral home guy got a call on his cell phone and told us it would be a while before the backhoe guy could get there. The day was moving on, the sun was about to go down and we all needed to get on the road for Texas. We had already provided a nice feast for the chiggers and were getting hungry ourselves. The funeral home guy insisted that we should go and he would stay behind to take care of everything. To this day I remember the sight of Buster’s coffin there on the bare ground with no grave as we all drove off leaving the funeral home guy standing watch.
But what about the times things get ugly as we age? Before we die? When the mind has gone, never to return? My grandmother reached this stage about a year before her body followed and gave up the ghost. She developed physical problems that slowly destroyed her body. And the saddest part of all was that my daddy was her doctor. He was frozen by the current medical ethics and the law. He could not legally end her physical life. Even though her mind has gone and her body was in pain. He had no recourse but to stand helpless and watch his own mother’s slow physical death.
I have had two cats and two dogs put to sleep at the vet’s office. And every time I went home afterwards wishing for such a peaceful end to my own life when the time comes. And everyone I know feels the same way. When they use the term “put to sleep” it is that literally. The animal just drifts away while the vet slowly lays them down from standing with dignity to lying in repose.
There was a story on the news a couple of days ago about prisoners put to death by various means and how the death by injection has some glitches. It seems that our wonderful alternative to the electric chair or the gas chamber still causes some physical pain. Why can’t we figure this out? If it’s so easy to lose folks like Michael Jackson through drugs when we don’t want to why can’t we escort folks in a peaceful way when we do want to? Why couldn’t my grandmother have had as peaceful end as my dog?