Home yet again. This past journey was very different than last week's relaxing time, and if we could have ordered the two trips differently, we surely would have. But life has a way of happening unscheduled! And it was very important that we got to Virginia to see D's mom before fall schedules are upon us in full.
I am so thankful for so many things as I look back on those exhausting few days. Most of all, I am thankful that D's mom is currently in the respite section (being moved to rehab soon) of the assisted living area, and that she is being more fully evaluated. She was in need of care and attention, even more than we realized. Her physical, mental, and emotional decline have continued at a frightening pace. I had not seen her since last November, and even with the knowledge of her difficulties and with what D. shared with me after her saw her a few weeks ago, I was shocked at how much she had aged in those relatively few months. On the other hand, there are still a lot of moments when she is perfectly cogent and very much herself, with that mischievous smile peeking through and even a bit of what I think I would term healthy snark over her current situation. She's not terribly happy about being where she is, but she also seems to recognize on some level that she really needs the care.
I spent most of the days there working my way through the piles of paperwork that had accumulated over the past few weeks and months -- junk mail, bills, notices from the retirement community, etc. It was my self-appointed task to find and sort all that I could so that it all made some sense for my dear husband, who is her medical and financial power of attorney. He and his sister were in various meetings with the lawyer, social worker, accountant, etc., and it seemed to be the best way I could help. Since Grandma has sometimes taken to putting papers and cards and keys in places where you least expect to find them, I discovered that the sweet girl's keen eyes were very helpful. She prowled the shelves and some small drawers and discovered some things that were missing or that we otherwise needed to know about, so I was thankful for that. We also had a few moments of just sheer grace in terms of things "showing up" right when they needed to.
I was also thankful for how beautifully the sweet girl handled the trip. It was not easy for any of us to see D's mother struggling so much, and there were lots of times of stressful waiting, missed signals, places we needed to be, sitting around and talking through things ("boring adult talk" as she terms it) and paper shuffling. S. was a trooper. She had a few times where her stress got the better of her, but then we all did. Mostly it was good, growing trip which she handled with much grace. Even under the circumstances, she was so glad for time with her grandmother, aunt, and great aunt, as were we all.
I find myself not just tired and grateful today, as I play catch-up on a host of household chores and try to think my way through organizing for the new school year (that should have started this week but instead will start next week) but realizing anew how precious our lives are. Even if we're given threescore and ten years of relatively good health and sound mind, it's such a short amount of time really. I found myself renewing my heart's commitment to living as healthfully, fully, and passionately as I can in whatever years I'm allotted. So much living, loving, kingdom work, creative work, I still long to do. As Psalm 90:12 reminds us, "teach us to number our days," dear Lord, "that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Or as it says in the Message: "Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!"