The tail end of life: Why wait?

The ‘tail end’ is used often enough to explain the end of something; a concert, a speech, a football game, a movie. I’ve heard it and used it many times. However, I never applied it to me. The tail end of my life?  I never really put me and my lifespan into the equation.

Family isn't always blood...Last week I sent the article link titled The Tail End to my siblings. I read this article years ago and wanted to revisit it. Once I read it, I wanted my long-distance siblings to read it and absorb the message as well.

The ‘tail end’ is used often enough to explain the end of something; a concert, a speech, a football game, a movie. I’ve heard it and used it many times. However, I never applied it to me.

 Last week I sent the article link titled The Tail End to my siblings. I read this article years ago and wanted to revisit it. Once I read it, I wanted my long-distance siblings to read it and absorb the message as well. The ‘tail end’ is used often enough to explain the end of something; a concert, a speech, a football game, a movie. I’ve heard it and used it many times. However, I never applied it to me. Or my life. The tail end of my life? I never really put me and my lifespan into the equation. What began as an novel idea has turned into an “in your face” fact. Four years has passed since Tim Urban wrote and published this in 2015 and since then many things have happened in my world. I now I have a 2-year old granddaughter, my grandson is ten years old, my brother has died and so many other happy and sad life events have occurred. I read the article and then reached for the phone to make a call to my friend, I texted my sister and sent a card to my aunt. I checked the airlines to see when I can visit my son and his family. I’ve jotted down a note to contact Sharon to set up a monthly date to connect. She and I have been friends since 1979 and we live 35 miles from each other. I last saw her in June. If I’m lucky I see her twice yearly and that’s not good enough. We don’t have the excuse of huge time commitments, airlines, hotels, car rentals, etc because we live down the highway from each other. What it takes is to put a date on the calendar and honor it. I have other friends who need to be on my calendar more often as well. I can make that happen. I am happy to say my siblings find time to connect with me via video chat. We are able to have 5 of us chatting at the same time. It’s like being at the dinner table again. The topic is more about our grandchildren and their antics rather than us and our issues. When our brother died two years ago, he found a way to bring us together even tighter than we were before. Hearing a song that he loved, a phrase he used to say, attending his daughter’s wedding and so many other memories keep us touching base. He is the fourth sibling that I’ve lost but he was the most special in so many ways. We were two years apart in age and our children were best friends growing up. His death took so much from us and in a way, left fertile ground for us to grow closer. Being able to live in the same place as the people I love is a thing of beauty (there I am again, checking real estate options near my granddaughter…) and means I will get to spend much more time in the presence of those I love. However, living in the same area as my family and friends means nothing if I don’t reach out and connect with them. Sometimes it takes work to stay in touch but it’s so worth it. I keep asking myself, what really matters? You may have figured out that family means a lot to me. The ages 0-5 are the ones I adore the most. Children in this age range are innocent, inventive, wild and free at heart. Then they go to school and learn how to draw ‘in the lines’ and learn to spell correctly and become more regimented. But prior to attending school, they are genuine. Eliminate the crap. Life is too short, time is elusive and we can only do so much. Right? Spending time with people who I do not love, doing something that doesn’t bring me happiness and knowing that time is finite is the kick I need to focus on what I love above all else. What now? For me, in my tail end of life I plan to put another visit on my calendar to see my granddaughter. I can interact more readily with my grandson each day too. My siblings will continue to see me on video as we connect in a way that was never possible a decade ago. My local friends will benefit the most as I focus on setting up one-on-one time with them. I know they are busy and have families and all that jazz but they need me too. So, it’s time to pull out my calendar and make some calls. +++++++ Resources: Waitbutwhy.com: The Tail End by Tim Urban https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.htmlThe tail end of my life?  I never really put me and my lifespan into the equation. What began as an novel idea has turned into an “in your face” fact. Four years has passed since Tim Urban wrote and published this in 2015 and since then many things have happened in my world. I am retired, I have a 2-year old granddaughter, my grandson is ten years old, my brother has died and so many other happy and sad life events have occurred. I am in the third of my life and more aware of my dear wonderful friend called ‘Time.’

I read the article and then reached for the phone to make a call to my friend, I texted my sister and sent a card to my aunt. I  checked the airlines to see when I can visit my son and his family. I’ve jotted down a note to contact Sharon to set up a monthly date to connect. She and I have been friends since 1979 and we live 35 miles from each other. I last saw her in June. If I’m lucky I see her twice yearly and that’s not good enough. We don’t have the excuse of huge time commitments, airlines, hotels, car rentals, etc because we live down the highway from each other. What it takes is to put a date on the calendar and honor it. I have other friends who need to be on my calendar more often as well. I can make that happen.

I am happy to say my siblings find time to connect with me via video chat. We are able to have 5 of us chatting at the same time. It’s like being at the dinner table again. The topic is more about our grandchildren and their antics rather than us and our issues.

When our brother died two years ago, he found a way to bring us together even tighter than we were before. Hearing a song that he loved, a phrase he used to say, attending his daughter’s wedding and so many other memories keep us touching base. He is the fourth sibling that I’ve lost but he was the most special in so many ways. We were two years apart in age and our children were best friends growing up. His death took so much from us and in a way, left fertile ground for us to grow closer.

Being able to live in the same place as the people I love is a thing of beauty (there I am again, checking real estate options near my granddaughter…) and means I will get to spend much more time in the presence of those I love. However, living in the same area as my family and friends means nothing if I  don’t reach out and connect with them. Sometimes it takes work to stay in touch but it’s so worth it.

I keep asking myself, what really matters?

You may have figured out that family means a lot to me. The ages 0-5 are the ones I adore the most. Children in this age range are innocent, inventive, wild and free at heart. Then they go to school and learn how to draw ‘in the lines’ and learn to spell correctly and become more regimented. But prior to attending school, they are genuine.

Friends matter too. And yet, I have to make sure I make those calls and stay in touch. It’s so easy to let time slip away without making the effort.

Eliminate the crap. Life is too short, time is elusive and we can only do so much. Right?
Spending time with people who I do not love, doing something that doesn’t bring me happiness and knowing that time is finite is the kick I need to focus on what I love above all else.

 What now?

For me, in my tail end of life I plan to put another visit on my calendar to see my granddaughter. I can interact more readily with my grandson each day too.

My siblings will continue to see me on video as we connect in a way that was never possible a decade ago.

My local friends will benefit the most as I focus on setting up one-on-one time with them. I know they are busy and have families and all that jazz but they need me too. So, it’s time to pull out my calendar and make some calls.

+++++++

Check out these links!

Waitbutwhy.com: The Tail End by Tim Urban

Death 101: Homework Assignment

Empty Bowl becomes a Friendship Bowl

A sense of optimism about humanity

People will never forget how you made them feel

 

Crash moments: When everything changes

We’ve all had these ‘crash moments’ in our world. When everything that kept us busy and struggling the night before is gone and something HUGE is on the table. We immediately take stock of our lives and determine what’s most important. The little things fall away. The overcrowded schedules disappear, family meals matter more, communication and honesty are incorporated into conversations again. 

I love family. I have over thirty nieces and nephews across the globe. Some I know very well, some not at all. They are figuring it out, day by day, like I did at their age. They have issues. They have exciting news. They have problems. They feel lost. They feel misunderstood. They are happy. They are struggling. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Now with a generation under me working through the same issues… I can be of help to them by listening. This process of life is where the learning happens.

Attending a family wedding last weekend, and listening to trials and tribulations my relatives were going through reminded me of my life at that age. My life back then included my husband, two sons, job choices, college expenses, high school graduations, baseball and soccer practices and schedules – until a diagnosis arrived and all the noise was eliminated in a second. Then the focus turned to what mattered most – family.

We’ve all had these ‘crash moments’ in our world. When everything that kept us busy and struggling the night before is gone and something HUGE is on the table. We immediately take stock of our lives and determine what’s most important. The little things fall away. The overcrowded schedules disappear, family meals matter more, communication and honesty are incorporated into conversations again.

Then, out of the decade of health, ill-health, illness and death – came the time to start anew. Whether I liked it or not – I was single again.  Saying goodbye was hard and yet, I was 48 years old and knew that there was no turning back. The role of wife was over. The plan to grow old with the man I married was gone. That took place 15 years ago. And, over time, I’ve found my place once again. New friends. New location. With the same love and appreciation for family.

Currently, my family members are dealing topics such as sadness, money issues, drug issues, love issues, and so many other ‘first-world’ problems. Their issues are real. Their sadness, confusion, heartache, and pain are all real. What I want for them is a wake-up call to help them let the petty stuff go so they can remember that time is finite.

Family matters. Love matters.

As long as we have food, shelter, family and love… we really have it all, don’t we?


I heard the term CRASH MOMENTS from Carla Moore. She literally survived a car accident and came out of it with a new look at her life and all the things she left unfinished. She was not ready to die but the accident gave her many reasons to live.
Carla Moore

I listened to the podcast Do It Scared and heard the interview with Carla Moore by Ruth Soukup (Episode #60)


RESOURCES:

Day 18 – Finding that elusive something

Yesterday was one of those memorable days. Playing with my 7-year-old grandson in the leaves, throwing football, playing chase, losing in Dominoes, reviewing baby pictures … the stuff that turns a solitary day into memories. As the years tick by, our activities change. Our roles change too. When he and I play games we are equals. In the kitchen, he is the student – for now. Playing online games, he is the teacher.

Seven years soon turns into 17 and when that happen, what will be the glue that holds us together? I hope the glue includes respect, caring and love. I also hope this interaction is up-close and personal. That we live nearby each other and stay connected. That means everything to me.

My brother lives in Zürich and is surrounded by family. His 4 children and their spouses and 5 grandchildren always gather together on Sundays for family dinner. If I contact him on Skype, I often get to see the melee behind him. Food cooking on the stove, toddlers waddling by, preschoolers visiting to say hello to me – it’s joyful chaos. My brother is in his glory having everyone together.

That’s not the world I live in. The majority of my family lives many miles from me. Getting together is a big thing – we don’t gather during the holidays but for other occasions such as graduations, anniversaries, weddings and sometimes for funerals.

If I had my way, I’d live closer to family – which means I would want them near me (I don’t want to be the one that has to move!) or at least living within a day’s drive.

My alternative to having family nearby is to create a new family through friends. These are people who stay in touch, care about me and want to be with me. As I mentioned in another post, making new friends in a community where everyone else has history, job connections, family and friends nearby – is not an easy task.

My melancholy mood is certainly tied to the change in weather, amount of light, altered seasons and all those things I have no control over. It makes me want to DO something. Does that even make sense? If so, let me know because it confounds me. I’ll close for now and offer you all a warm hug and a cup of hot cocoa.

But I digress…

xo – Margekatherine

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Family isn't always blood...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving: A Day Like No Other

In the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the last Thursday of November. That’s less than a week away.

Give thanks bannerGrowing up, it was always a favorite time for me because of all the food (turkey is my favorite), my mom made pies (this was a ‘holiday-only’ treat), lots of family gathered and there was a festive feeling in the air. When the meal was over, the table was cleared and the poker games began. The laughter, yelling and cigarette smoke are in my memory cells.

Moving away from that scene was hard on me. I adored the large gathering of people and I missed that aspect because my clan numbered 4 instead of 24. It never felt right cooking a big turkey (yes, my favorite) for 4.

Over the years my clan has dwindled and I’ve been warmly invited into a new brood – one with lots of noise, people and hugs. And guess what I miss? Cooking that big turkey (uh huh, my favorite). I want to have my own celebration – with friends coming by and bringing food. I want to have the noise and festive atmosphere – right here.

So, if you’re around with no place to go – make a pie and bring it by.

I’ll warm you up a plate and save you a chair.

And we can share our words of gratitude together.

 

2 Parents: 10 Different Stories

Last weekend I was with family — tons of family and it was a blast. Much of our time we discussed things we did or saidfamily gathering in years past. Some memories made me laugh out loud as if I were standing there all over again. Some memories never made it to my memory bank. Some memories made me cringe as I relived something or sat in sadness hearing someone’s story.

Listening to stories told by my siblings, I realized that we lived in different worlds. We could have been neighbors instead of siblings. Born from the same parents we had some shared memories but mainly from big events like the house burning down, a death, wedding, or a car accident.

The other things – birthdays, school days, neighborhood friends, escapades, successes, failures and other milestones were only lived by each of us individually. Did we all cocoon and close away on purpose or were we so involved in surviving that we didn’t pay attention?

Is this how it was for you or was my family the exception? I’d love to go back in time and pay attention to the events and remember the interactions and be more present.

But I can’t  – so instead I made sure I made real memories at the wedding last week. I talked one-on-one with my sibs, with their kids and other family members. I’ll try to be more present now …so that they will have memories of me in the future.