I don’t write personal posts often, but this past weekend I lost my grandmother and it has caused me to think a lot about health and illness, life and death.
She was 91 and my only remaining grandparent. She taught me to play chess and to paint, and was instrumental in my faith life.
While I am very sad to have lost her, I am grateful as this was the first time I was ever able to say goodbye to a grandparent. We got to say all the things one regrets not saying…. the things we should all remember to say to our loved ones each day.
We got to say “I love you,” and reminisce about all the good memories. She got to meet her newest great-grandchild.
In the last conversation I had with her, as she sat surrounded by all of her children and grandchildren, she said something that really struck me:
“I have accepted it and I am at peace.”
I realized that not many of us get to say that at the end and it made me really think about the reasons we do things in life.
The Real Goal?
It seems that often in life, the things that seem like such a big deal now aren’t all that important in the long run…
In those last conversations with my grandma, she talked about how grateful she was for each of her children and how proud of them she was. She was really big on helping others and was glad that all of her kids had done that in some way during their lives.
You know what wasn’t said in those last conversations? Things like “If only I had lost that last dress size after having a baby,” or “If only I didn’t have these stretch marks from carrying my six kids.” Nor were there any regrets about not having more money, more clothes, more possessions.
In the end, the most valuable commodity in life is time. One can (hypothetically) always make more money or replace possessions, but we all only get the same 24 hours each day for as long as we are here on earth.
When it comes down to it, the reason we strive to be healthy can’t be so that we fit into the same size clothes we did in college or so we have flawless skin (though those can be great side-effects of being healthy), but so that we can have more time to enjoy the blessings of this life and the health and energy to be able to live it the best way possible.
I hope that God-willing I make it to 91 or older, that I will also be able to say that I am at peace, surrounded by those I love. In the meantime, I’ll be striving to be as healthy as I can be, not so that I can look a certain way or fit into a certain dress size, but so that I have the energy and health to be the best wife and mother possible…
And so that I can have many more days hearing the precious (and sometimes at 5 AM not so precious) sound of little feet each day.
Because at the end of life, the things that won’t matter will be things like:
- My bank account balance
- What size I wear
- How many things I’ve accrued
- How many people knew who I was
- What other people thought of me
- How clean my house was
- How much work I got done
But rather, the important things will been those that don’t often seem to have value in today’s world:
- The moments spent cuddling a baby while I could have been cleaning instead
- Great conversations and time spent with my husband
- The goodnight kisses
- The thousands of diapers changed
- The boo-boos kissed and fixed
- People I have helped
- The relationships I’ve nurtured over the years
- The family meal times spent together just enjoying each other’s company
I strive to be healthy so that I can see those little feet learn to walk and then walk down the aisle one day. So that I can be there for all the important moments in my kids’ lives and meet my grandkids one day.
In the end, I think that it comes down to love. Not love in an abstract “all we need is love” Beatles way, but love in the self-giving, sacrificial, daily choices we make.
Love isn’t just an emotion that we feel, but a daily choice that we make… and perhaps the most important one we can make. Not only is it the root of faith and relationships but it is what drives those things that will really matter in life. A new mother doesn’t love her baby just because of an emotion (though it certainly is that as well) but out of a desire for the good of her child, a self-giving, nurturing love where nothing is expected in return.
From my relatively short time on the earth thus far, I can say that those are the things that leave me feeling at peace and fulfilled… the times and relationships where love is not just an emotion but a self-giving choice. I can imagine that at the end of life, those are also the things that allow us to say “I am at peace.”
As Mother Teresa so eloquently put it on the wall of her home for orphaned children in India:
What is your motivation? Why do you strive to be healthy? Share below!