Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Impermanence of It All

Jennie circa 1945
I had my soon to be 88 year old mom spend the night with us last weekend as we were hosting Easter for the family. It was going to be a very small group this year as some have moved out of state while others had in-law obligations.  I felt bad for my mom, this was not the Easter of her past, especially with my dad being gone almost seven years now. I remember big loud affairs, kids running all over the place, makeshift tables in my Grandparent's basement in East Detroit (that's what is was called back then) with dishes stacked one atop  another to accommodate all the different courses that were served.  After dinner the ladies would clean up, us kids would go into a sugar induced coma and the men would play cards with their pants unbuttoned from eating way too much pasta.

My mom is not in good health now and often says to me "I never thought growing old would be like this".  I constantly have to bite my tongue, the sassy part of me wants to ask her "well what the hell did you think would happen".  She has watched her parents, siblings, husband and countless other relatives make their way to the other side...but she didn't think it would happen to her?  I know, I know, I did say it was the sassy part of me.

As I was peeling potatoes for dinner she was taking yet another nap even though it was just 11:00 am.  I was using the process of potato peeling as a kind of meditation.  You know,  a one pointed focus (meditation comes in all forms, not just sitting on your bottom and chanting "ommmm") and wondered how could I make this Easter like the ones of her past, I wanted to make her happy.  Then I remembered I can't recreate the past, no one can.  This was the 2013 version of Easter.  Next year will be different and so will the one after that.

The Buddha taught us that everything is impermanent. Most of us think of impermanence as a unpleasant thing but it is the cycle of life. The world we live in is constantly changing whether we accept it or not. This is where the pain of suffering (dukkha) comes from.  I know that this is not a comfortable topic for most westerners to talk about let alone think about.  I am reminded about it every time I look into the mirror and see another gray hair or wrinkle, but then I say to myself this is me today.  I am not the same as yesterday nor will I be the same tomorrow.  I have learned to be OK with impermanence after all we will all die one day.  

My mom is in constant pain due to age related issues and inactivity, but I wish she could try and embrace the blessings that she has in her life today, family love, support of friends, a roof over her head, food, heath insurance. I wish she could make a little more peace with the Jennie of 2013. She wants to be in the past where she was young, healthy, very beautiful and could dance the night away wearing ankle strap high heels.  

As she naps I check on her often to make sure that that her chest is moving up and down, watching her as she just breathes....

1 comment:

  1. We should all embrace the blessings we have in our life today, and make peace with the person we are today. Well said.

    Good choice for Mom's picture