There’s been a lot of family events around these parts of late. Some happy moments. Some sad moments. All moments deeply affecting me. This post might seem a little maudlin but not really – the cycle of life is reality and I think too many of us avoid thinking or talking about it.
The Sunday before last was a big family get together with relatives from my father’s side. It was held at the house of one of my cousin’s. It was to celebrate numerous family birthdays at this end of the year, including my father’s 85th which was on 1 November. His sister turns 70 in December and his other sister recently turned 66. Dad’s parents had two boys (eldest son is deceased) and then about 15 years later had another set of children but this time, girls! So there we were all gathered, three generations – our parents, my generation of cousins, and our children. The fourth generation, our parent’s parents, long gone and even one of our parents, my uncle.
Last Friday was my mother-in-law’s funeral. This was followed by tea, coffee, sandwiches and scones in the church hall and then later, close family and friends went back to my brother and sister-in-law’s for the wake. I saw cousins and people I had not seen for many, many years. It was wonderful. It was touching. It was sad. It was beautiful.
On Sunday just gone there was another family get together at my parent’s house. Mum has had two of her sisters (and one brother-in-law) staying, visiting from NSW. So we gathered all the Brisbane and nearby relatives from Mum’s side of the family together. Three generations again, our parents, my generation of cousins, and our children.
What is becoming more evident to me (or perhaps a little harder to ignore) as I get older is the ‘cycle of life’. Where once I slotted into the third generation (the children), I am now in the second generation (the parents). Eventually, along with my cousins, I will be shuffled into the first generation position (the elderly parents/grandparents) and today’s first generation position holders (my parents included) will have gone. A new generation, our children’s children, will take the third generation place.
Losing my mother-in-law affected me much more than I thought it would. She was 90 but age does not make it easier. It is the finality that jars. The never hearing or seeing her again. The flashbacks over the time I have known her. The hearing her voice in my head and hoping that I can always remember it. The realizing how special she was and wondering why I didn’t truly realize that over the years until now. The seeing everything she made with her own hands in a totally different light now. The deep burning pain in my chest when I realize she is truly gone now forever. The moments the reality hits me and I burst into tears. The fear of how I will cope when it is one of my own parents.
While I was looking through all our photo’s to gather a collection of photos of Betty for display at her wake, I came upon this battered photo of my daughter with ‘Chelsea’ our elderly dog as a puppy. This was taken on a visit to the breeder to visit Chelsea. She wasn’t quite old enough to leave her mother and come live with us yet. My daughter was around 4-5 years of age. She is now 20 and will be 21 in May. That puppy, Chelsea, is 15 turning 16 in March 2016. She is very old now and not very good on her legs. She’s blind and deaf but still loves her food and still gets excited in the mornings for her morning biscuit.
Time marches on. It stops for no-one. There is no escaping the cycle of life. So long as we live – we all lose our youth, we will all age and eventually we will all die. We must make the most of each and every day. Life is precious, and it passes by so quickly. Ideally, we should spend our lives doing what makes us feel happy and good about ourselves. We need to appreciate those that we love and never take one moment with them for granted.
My mother-in-law did so much for others. She was very community minded and was involved in many community organisations. She puts me to shame. I’ve been pondering what would be said at my funeral? What would I want to be said at my funeral? How can I live my life so that I am proud of what is said about me at my funeral?
We come from the earth, we return to the earth, and in between we garden.
The garden of life is ever-changing, seasonal, sometimes full of weeds, sometimes flourishing, sometimes not, but if we are attentive, take notice, learn from mistakes and lessons, and keep tending it, then I think that will keep us on the right path to where we are meant to be at any given moment.
Ciao for now,
Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT
It is always very sad when you lose someone and it makes you stake stock of your own life. I have lost a few people lately and it doesn’t get any easier
I’m so sorry to hear you’ve lost a few people lately Natalie. Losing one has been hard. I can’t imagine more! Big hugs! 🙂 xo
We are from the same generation and I have been pondering these same thoughts as you have over the past months. Your words make a lot of sense and are also very comforting. I’m glad that you take the time to share with us.
Thanks Patrick! We were born in a mighty fine year! I’m so glad you find something comforting in the words I’ve written. 🙂
Big hugs for your loss. It really is never easy no matter the age or circumstances.
My mother had similar family dynamic. My grandparents had her brother then her 5 years later. 10-15 years later were two “accidents” bringing younger sisters and leading to two different generations of grandkids/cousins. The older cousins all have kids in primary school and the younger bunch are in college or just finished and starting adulthood.
Thanks Deb! Fancy your mother coming from a similar family dynamic as my father. I can’t imagine having two children and going through the baby & toddler years, then kindy/preschool years and to be nearly through the schooling years, only to then have another two and start all over again! lol xo
Really poignant Min. I love that quote about gardening in between and the metaphor it represents – how beautiful.
Thanks Kathy – I agree about the quote 😉 xo
I’m sorry for your loss Min, but so very glad you had a mother in law you could enjoy while she was with you. xxx
Thanks so much Nicole. We were very blessed to have her until she was only two months short of turning 91. 🙂 xo
I can so relate to this Min. The whole circle of life thing is a no-brainer… we know it’s going to happen and yet it’s still devastating when it does.
I worry a bit because I don’t have my own family, what will happen when my mother passes and I’m ‘it’. I wonder if having kids would remind me more that my parents have made way for future generations….
Yes we tend to bury our head in the sand with regards to the whole cycle of life thing, until something happens that slaps us in the face and we can no longer avoid the truth of it. When your Mum passes, you will have your brother, his wife and your niece and all of your friends, Deb. xo
My mom got married in her early 20s as well and her sisters were her bridesmaids. They were in middle and high school lol.
I know it’s crazy isn’t it. I recently was shown photo’s of my uncle’s wedding (Dad’s brother) and their sisters were little children at it! 🙂