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January 12, 2022


I asked my Dad, who was also a highly-disciplined and achievement-oriented man how he adapted to the diminishment of age; he said, "Accept and adapt", a distilled version of your choir experience. But when I was growing up, both parents would never say something was "good enough" . Though demanding, they equipped me to make my way. I wonder if their approach was generational: one's children used every drop of their potential, there was little patience for "finding yourself".

At 73, even if I have the same desire to achieve, my body and now sometimes my brain no longer have the flexibility and capacity they once did. I've adapted by scaling back in terms of (now self-imposed) acceptable level of performance (one example is my yoga practice) but still requiring myself to summon attention and perseverance.



After reading your post, I thought of a friend I knew for 47 years. She died a year ago in a memory care residence, under the care of our local hospice. She had a full rich life as a tapestry weaver, dancer, singer, married woman, mother, friend, divorced woman, lifelong volunteer in various capacities and writer. She was highly disciplined even after she had a stroke in 2014 at age 74, at which time she moved to Norway to live with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson. She accepted the diminishment of her ability to write and accepted that she was never going to learn Norwegian and made a decision to return to the U.S. to live near old friends, of whom I am one.

In her last years, as her team of friends, we witnessed both her frustration with her increasingly limited ability to weave and then her calm decision to sell her 50-year-old floor loom to a younger weaver. We witnessed her desire to remain as active as possible while her ability to function diminished incrementally.

She went from living independently in her own apartment to an assisted living situation and then to a memory care residence when she could no longer perform activities of daily living, although she was still able to speak and enjoy the company of friends and family and to make new friends with her fellow residents who also had memory loss issues. While living in the memory care residence, she welcomed her friends who came to visit, joined a singing group, took dance lessons, planned a final exhibit of her tapestries, went on outings, enjoyed her coffee, walked outside in the garden with her walker, listened to music, and made efforts to help those whose function had diminished more than hers.

Until the light went out of her eyes a few months before she died and she could no longer speak or laugh, she had a keen sense of humor, laughing easily.

All this to say that I witnessed the grace with which Linda let go and let go and finally let go.

Having turned 72 in 2021, I see myself defining my own "core central tasks" as an artist and writer, as a woman who practices yoga, as a reader, as a woman who plays the autoharp, as a friend, as a woman on a spiritual journey. I'm grateful to Linda for showing me how she remained true to her own core central tasks.

"True life begins where the tiny bit begins -- where what seems to us minute and infinitely small alterations take place. True life is not lived where great external changes take place -- where people move about, clash, fight, and slay one another -- it is lived only where these tiny, tiny, infinitesimally small changes occur."

Leo Tolstoy, from his 1890 essay, "Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?"

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.