As a kid, I grew exasperated with my mother’s obsession with nature. “Listen!” She would turn her head this way and that, a big grin on her face. “It’s so quiet.”
Mom taught us to value silence. She grew up in silence, on a farm in North Dakota. She taught us to notice the way a breeze sounds like a roar when it moves through pine trees. She taught us to hear the multi-tiered notes of the meadowlark, and to see the mare’s tales scraping the sky.
She taught us that family is everything.
Now she’s 85, and she’s teaching me how to age. She lives alone, but has a posse of girlfriends to have coffee or lunch with. Sometimes they go to the movies. Mom attends exercise class three times a week, and she’s active in her church. She stood up in front of a group the other day, on an issue that was important to her. It was business meeting at her church. Her hands were shaking but she stated her case. Twice, because she didn’t think they got it the first time. She was proud of herself and I’m proud of her. She’s still growing.
Here she is, visiting the North Dakota Badlands in September 2010 with her elder sister who lives in Indiana. Both of them have health problems – the kind that wake you up at two in the morning and you wonder if this is the night you’re going to have to call 911. But they might take an aspirin with a glass of milk, or read, and grow peaceful again and go back to sleep. In the morning, there is the sun, and it’s another day.
Mom is still teaching me. The current lesson is how to age with courage.
Kindle readers can email me at Lmspreen@yahoo.com.