I pray the Lord my Soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my Soul to take.
How many times have you as a little child prayed that prayer? I know in my case it was many, many. Do you realize that nowadays, "people" have decided that "if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take" is too scary for children?
I actually can't think of a better place for my soul to be than with the Lord, can you? Somehow are failing to teach all the realities of life today in an effort to "protect" our children from all the scary things. We are not teaching them how to deal with the difficult times and the realities of every day living. Instead we are so busy protecting them that they are crumbling when they run into the obstacles that all of us must someday face as adults.
It isn't just about the fact that all of us are born mortals and must someday face illness and/or death, we also aren't teaching them about dealing with financial crisis, job loss, divorce and just plain difficult times. So many people run to the doctor for a "pill" to try and fix things when they get stressed out or have to deal with the realities of life. It is frightening how many people in our times are on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications because they have never learned how to deal with the day to day difficulties of being an adult.
Women and men abandon their children and their responsibilities looking for greener grass and less difficult lives, when all the time it is the difficulties and challenges of life which make us grow into better, stronger and more compassionate people.
For the past six months I have been the sole caregiver for a ninety-five year old woman who asked me to be her guardian. She fell a few months ago and broke her hip. At first it seemed she might recover without too much difficulty. However, a few weeks into the recovery period she took a turn for the worse. Due to the stress of the fall, anesthesia and her age she developed severe dementia. It was a terrifying thing to watch!
Fortunately she had completed all the right paperwork so that I knew her wishes and was able to carry them out. It has been one of the most difficult periods of my life. I watched her slip away more with each passing day. She talked to people who were not in the room, and wandered around looking for "home". She lost control of her bladder and bowels and had to wear diapers. She finally began refusing to eat and became combative. I called Hospice at that point, and they were a tremendous help. However, I will tell you that for 16 hours a day I changed diapers, fed and cared for this lady as she lost touch with reality and didn't even recognize who I was. I had made a promise to her that as long as I was strong and healthy she would never end up in a nursing home. She didn't. I did have to hire a night time caregiver to assist after a while, as she would get up during the night and wander without her walker, and would have injured herself. She was up every two hours for several weeks before I realized that I could not stay awake all day and all night caring for her.
I share all this for several reasons. Number One is that I MADE A PROMISE, and I kept it. So many times people make promises and then fail to keep them when things get difficult. I did not want to fail my friend, no matter how difficult things got. Number Two is that we ALL will face illnesses, death and dying someday, and we need to be prepared for that fact. Life is a precious commodity with a limited time warranty. There are no guarantees that it will be easy or comfortable or without difficulty, pain and sorrow.
Our children and grandchildren must be taught to enjoy the precious moments of life, but they must also be taught about the day to day realities of life. None of us will go sailing through this life without some difficulty, whether it is a painful divorce, the loss of a child, job losses and financial difficulties or dealing with illness and death. We must begin to better prepare our future generations for the "bumps in the road" so to speak.
We must also learn to deal with death and dying as a part of life. So many times people don't know what to say when someone is ill, so they don't visit or offer to help. People don't want to face their own mortality and so they avoid discussing death or planning for the eventuality of it. Oh, I am not saying that you should "dwell" on death and dying, but you should be prepared for the loss of loved ones as well as your own mortality. We do not live forever.
Being with Lucy over these past several months has made me very aware of all of the possibilities. I will have a living will. My family does know my wishes about my final days. I will tell those I love every day how much they mean to me. I will take time to smell the roses, breathe the ocean air and laugh loudly and frequently. And, I will say "I pray the Lord my Soul to take."