I drove my father to see his remaining older siblings over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a long drive but very much worth it. Out first stop was Dad’s 93 year old sister. She is the oldest of them and has been the matriarch of the family since their mother’s death long ago. It was great to not only see her, but see Dad with her as the two if them had a chance to talk and catch up.
This was the fist time I had the chance to see just the two of them together. Usually seeing her is reserved for family reunions when many others are around. I might get a glimpse or two of a conversation between the two of them, but not much more than that. It was interesting to see the dynamic between these two, and one could defiantly tell that she was the oldest.
It was so sweet to see Dad tell her about what life had been like since Mom’s passing, and her gently saying things to console him. And then she would give advice as the older and wiser of the two. One of the things she said has stuck with me. When Dad was telling her about all the changes in his life – moving twice, learning a new area, figuring life out now as a widower and how much he wished could keep the family compound but it was just too much for him to keep up himself. She wisely smiled and said “Yes, but life changes and you must change.”
She lost her husband several years ago and now lives in an assisted living place where she is very happy. She talked to Dad about how she too had felt the same way but now things are much easier. That part of her life was over, and she had change too. She talked about finding comfort in that acceptance. The way she phrased it, with a little smile, it was more poetic than melancholy. The acceptance of change and going with it. While Dad does not need assisted living, he understood the message.
And indeed there is a beauty in the simplicity. Life changes. We must change too. Circumstances and situations change. Don’t fight it, go with it, ride the wave and go with the current and you will find safe shores. It happens all the time – we get a new job, move to a new place, start a new relationship, start a family, start a new personal journey. Our lives are spent adapting to life’s changes. And life is beautiful.
Life may never be the same, and it is not always easy. But what we need is often just on the other side of change. The change of seasons brings the colors of the leaves, and we can choose to celebrate the beauty. Little did my aunt know that she was giving advice to me too. Or maybe is all her years and wisdom, she knew. Maybe what was in that smile was knowing she was giving advice to two during the visit.