The other day I was thinking about the time several years ago when I visited my mom in Florida. At that time she was nearing 90 years old. During my visit we toured Bok Gardens and spent the afternoon strolling through the grounds. It was a relaxing time where we walked together and enjoyed the beautiful gardens with trees, flowers and reflecting pools on a sunny and warm afternoon.
At that time, my mother was able to maintain a slow and steady pace as we walked the trails. It was a pace that was far slower than my work-a-day world that ran on the clock with seemingly too few minutes and too many miles between meetings. It was a special moment where life slowed to almost a stop — a time to enjoy each other’s company and the beautiful surroundings.
On several occasions I would take her hand to help her up a long, sloping path or along a bumpy walk way. My mom remarked how once she took my hand as a boy to guide me safely along a walk and now I was guiding her. “They say you become like a child as you get older,” she said.
“Well, you took care of all us kids for a lot of years. Now it’s our turn to care for you,” I responded. It was the only thing I could think of to say to her. At the time, I knew what it was like to be in my 50s, but not 89. It seemed then I only had one setting for my life — full speed ahead. I forced myself to slow down — to be in the moment and enjoy the time with her.
Since my mom’s death in October, I have done a lot of reflecting on her life and it’s intersection with my life. I thought about the last 10 years that have passed since that walk and how my mom gradually declined to the point where she had difficulty walking. The last few months of her life she was bedridden. It only emphasizes to me how fragile life is and how we should cherish every moment with loved ones — how we should slow down and enjoy life’s simplest moments with others.
So many things complicate life, but I am reminded, as the first Christmas without my mom approaches, simple moments like a walk with someone are fleeting moments that may never come again. This Christmas, as we gather with family and friends, be in the moment and cherish the time.
© 2021 CGThelen