In anticipation of being I Austin for the Unity South Central Regional Meeting this week, I decided to write earlier than usual. Today, Friday, feels like an ideal time to sit and share these thoughts. Typically, I spend Friday mornings with elderly persons who have chosen hospice care. This Friday is different. You see, yesterday, I received word that in the early hours of morning, Mrs. B made her transition from this earthly realm. I tell you this so that I can also tell you about the brilliant light I have come to know as Mrs. B. Today, I honor her life and the gift she is to my world and the life of so very many others.
By the time I had the pleasure meeting her, dementia had taken much of her memory. She no longer recalled family stories, siblings, children, grand children or her many friends. The past held no clarity, the future held no plan. What Mrs. B had was the present moment. For her it was truly “Present moment, wonderful moment” as Thich Nhat Hnah claims in his mindfulness meditation.
At hello on my first visit, and every visit thereafter, Mrs. B greeted me with her radiant smile. As it often happens with people living with dementia, each of our visits together was as though it was the very first. Yet, there was also a hint of recognition and warmth of longtime friends in her sparkling blue eyes. Such was the light that glowed from deep within Mrs. B., the light we know as love.
Our visits were always in the open, common areas. Mrs. B was always stylishly dressed, hair perfectly coifed, manicure freshly done, and jewelry to complement her outfits. We never sat in her room. Mrs. B was far too social for that. As we strolled around the property, even though she was now mobile only in a wheelchair, everyone knew her. Every staff person, other residents and volunteers, alike knew her and called her by name. Everyone, without exception, called out “Hello Mrs. B” or Mrs. B, how are you today?”. She replied with gracious kindness to all who spoke to her, often not recalling who they were, or how they knew her.” Occasionally she would wonder aloud how these people could all know her name.
Each visit that allowed us treasured time outdoors, Mrs. B would count each bird with adventurous wonder, noticing the differences in each o them. She joyfully took in the trees and noticed each crepe myrtle, maple and all he others we encountered on our outdoor adventures. She always enjoyed stopping along the way to savor the low-lying blossoms that sprouted from the ground. Honoring all of nature, Mrs. B glowed with pleasure at the beauty of creation. She especially enjoyed the days of gentle breezes that blew across her face and caused the trees to gently sway. With her face turned skyward she closed her eyes to embrace the breeze and the warmth of the sun.
Mrs. B and I giggled like schoolgirls when we took her very first selfie. She posed and smiled so big that her eyes squinted. On all visits to follow we posed together for selfie after selfie. Today, I sit in humble gratitude for the life that Mrs. B shared with so many and lived so richly. What an extraordinary example of grace and loving-kindness she demonstrated.
Time passed and in recent weeks Mrs. B was confined to her bed. This meant we visited for the first time in her room. She no longer responded when I entered nor did she open her beautiful sparkling blue eyes. When I arrived at her room there, on her night table, was the Daily Word. I read to her and talked about what the Daily Word said as Mrs. B drew away from this earthly more and more.
Today, I take in the news of Mrs. B making her transition. I recall that Jesus wept upon hearing the news of his beloved friend, Lazarus, passing. I too weep for the loss of the physical connection with Mrs. B. and I rejoice in the joy of her life, her love, her legacy. There is an emptiness in my morning and in my heart yet, I know we shall remain joined together always through fond memories and gentle breezes. Thank you for celebrating with me, the loving expression of God, I know as Mrs. B.
I shall return from Austin in time to celebrate again with you on Sunday. We move into the second week of our fall book study “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene’ Brown. We will continue the journey with courage, compassion and connection to walk through all that prevents us from living wholeheartedly.
Donna Kirby facilitates the 9:15 am book study followed by the celebration service at 11:00 am. Won’t you join us? It really isn’t the same without you.
Blessings and love from Austin,