Awhile ago I was having a conversation with one of my older grand-daughters who is 5. Lately she is becoming more aware that when people get old they might die. She asked me if I was “Old” and after an inside chuckle I answered. “Well, I’m not real old, but I am older than your mommy, because I am her mom.” “Oh Gramma,” she said in a worried voice, “that’s really old, that means you’re going to die soon.” “No honey” I replied ,”do you know that my Grandmother lived a good, long life until she was 93 years old?” “Oooohhh,” she said very excited, “that’s like counting to 100, that’s the biggest number!”
So we talked about her other grandparents and her mom and dad and her other aunts and uncles. Suddenly it was clear, that age may be just a number, but the word OLD to a child takes on a more concrete acceptance of life and death. How are these children so wise and knowledgeable while we grown ups struggle to defy, deny, and make excuses for our aging culture. Pets get old and die, so do our relatives and loved ones. I love a child’s realistic, literal acceptance of how life changes. We plant flowers, and vegetables and they wither and die, and go back into the soil to nourish the next plant.
Kids get this picture faster and easier than we give them credit. It’s a natural law of life, the bugs in the dirt, the lettuce in our garden, the dog who lived with a family all their life, and the aging grandparent whom has also lived a long fulfilling life, all eventually die. Babies are born and life begins all new again.
My other grand-daughter who is also 5, was at our home when our family dog of 16 years died. She cried and felt very sad, but her daddy explained how our Sophie went on hundreds of walks and hikes and ocean swims, and just got to old to walk anymore. Then she asked me one night after story time…”Gramma can you not die?” Well, I told her, I will sure try not to. She hugged me and seemed very happy with my answer.
I love to write about how precious life is, how short it is, but the truth is we all need to appreciate every day, and every person in our lives a bit more often. Think about what your children see when they look at their grandparents and teach them to see their worth, their value and their love. The one thing we know for certain, is that life keeps changing and nothing stays the same for very long. Hold those hands you’ve been missing, say those thank you’s more often and embrace those long standing relationships we often take for granted. God Bless you moms!