I don’t go often, it isn’t practical, but I felt a sense of urgency to drive to Napa and spend time with a friend. At age 96, Russ, the father of Georgianne, my brother’s one time girl friend, is in the process of transitioning. His body is saying “enough”, and at any given moment, it causes him to verbally accost his suffering.
Although our families grew close over the years, I never had a private moment to engage Russ in conversation. When there were opportunities for us all to gather, it was to celebrating a holiday around the dining room table’s abundance, or to watch the annual Super Bowl while indulging on chicken wings, nachos, and huge bowls of popcorn.
Russ is a quiet guy, until he lets out a “Yea” when his team makes a critical touchdown, and his voice fills every inch of air space. In his later years, watching football, and searching for the ultimate spiritual meaning in life, are his two favorite pastimes. His room is now set up with a TV to watch the games, and a bookcase full of his most valued possessions.
Last week, when I sat with Russ, he was reading Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book “Inspiration – Your Ultimate Calling.” Imagine, a fellow who is nearing the end of his life, still reaching for inspiration to help him navigate. That’s Russ, the Sage. Coincidentally, I’m reading the same book. When I mentioned that to Russ his eyes brightened, and his lips gestured a smile.
Georgianne had left us alone, and I was beyond pleased. It was the first time I’d had private time with Russ, and I had so much I wanted to share with him. I was in close proximity to his massive automated recliner. His hand was resting on his leg. Without thinking I picked it up and held it for the rest of our time together. I looked into Russ’s eyes, and told him how much he means to me, that he had been such an inspiration over the years, and that I love him. Tears came to my eyes, and I saw the same response from Russ’s. To my surprised, the tears weren’t prompted by sadness. They volunteered in this special moment of sharing my deeply felt words. I don’t recall some of our dialog, but as I stood up to leave, and say goodbye, Russ smiled and said “I’ll see you up there someday.”
“I sure hope so Russ.”
It feels odd to experience joy from a conversation with someone who is in their last stage of life, and someone you dearly love. At the same time it seems very natural.
I looked back on my life to recall if I’d ever experienced having this deep of an experience with anyone who would soon transition. My best recollection was the conversation I had with Georgianne’s mother, before she passed. It was quite different, in that we laughed a lot, but it seemed just as genuine and loving.
I think this process varies depending upon the relationship I have with different people, what I observe about them, and how that affects me. I’ve certainly had interactions, during transitioning, that weren’t so enriching.
What does it all mean? I think our true feelings do surface at these times, and they’re very telling. They show us who we are, what we value, and how in touch with that reality we will allow ourselves to be. It’s about being able to feel whatever our truth is, and if we will give ourselves permission to express it.
It reminds me of the following quote by Warren Buffet in his article “10 Ways to Get Rich.”
”When you get to my age, you’ll measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have loved you, actually do love you. That’s the ultimate test of how you’ve lived your life.”
This quote speaks of the value he places on love, but it also implies that people never really know how you feel unless you tell them.
I’d love to believe that when I’m at that stage in life, I will be able to experience a gift of love, from the depth of someone’s heart. It would be something very valuable to ease the suffering that tends to come with transitioning. I hope that’s what Russ is feeling, and that he will hold onto the love when he leaves, and well into the next phase of his existence. I do hope that I will meet him there someday.
© Shari Adams
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