My sister-in-law just called and said my mother-in-law is not doing well. She is in assisted living and is One Hundred years old. The last time we visited her she asked, "Why am I still here?'
I told her it was all the vitamins she took throughout her life.
"You mean I did it to myself?" she laughed.
The fact is, she has been ready to die for some time. How to face death is one of the questions of life she settled many years ago.
My husband and I feel fortunate that at our ages both our mothers are still living. People have told me that it is an eerie feeling to know that you are the oldest generation in your family. It seems that as long as one or both of your parents are living you have a false sense of security. They will be the next to die, not you. But, when they are gone, and you move into "the next to die" catagory, the illusion is shattered.
It is an illusion, you know. The statistics are in: ten out of ten people die. My daughter and her husband and three children were just in a car accident. A van pulled out of a side road right in front of them.
"It happened so quickly. Bill put on the brakes but we slid right into the guy," reported my shaken daughter.
Fortunately no one was hurt, "but it happened so quickly" is a pretty strong reminder of how suddenly life can change.
Part of adulthood is preparing for death. I have done that. My Christian faith has solved the eternal question, "What is my life all about?" It has also given me purpose, direction, and joy in this life, and a definitive hope for the future. As St Paul says, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Phillipians 1: 21
My 95-year-old mother went through a paranoid period where she was suspicious of the other residents in the nursing home where she lives. "You have to watch out for that one." and "That guy is out to get me," were common statements she would make to her daughters.
One of my sisters asked, "Mama, are you afraid to die?"
Astonished at the question, she looked at my sister and exclaimed, "Of course not. But I don't want to be murdered!"
Are you afraid to die? Well, death is the final enemy, "But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15: 57.