Resiliency is a key theme in my recent meditations on life. Just short of a year ago the world as I knew it came crashing down when my mother’s health started to rapidly deteriorate. I didn’t expect it. Although she has suffered a fractured pelvis and recurrence of breast cancer in 2016, I believed, as did the rest of her family and friends, that she was invincible, forever resilient, and immune to death. Most of us thought she would live to at least 100. When she was admitted to Indiana University Medical Center the week before Christmas and the nursing staff referred to her as a geriatric patient, we were mystified. It never occurred to us that Mom was geriatric, much less mortal.
Dad called me Christmas evening, said he needed me, and asked me to come to Indiana immediately. I was numb, in denial, and fractured. I was also worried about Dad. My parents has been together, inseparable for 62 years. I feared, as did my brother, that Dad would crumble. He did, temporarily. But as my Aunt Virginia kept repeating to me: “your father is strong”. At the time I had doubts; I had doubts about my father’s ability to cope without my mother. I had doubts about my ability to weather the loss; however, Daddy has shown amazing resilience as have I. We’ve both emerged through the fog of pain and loss stronger and more resilient than I could have ever imagined.
I’ve realized that both of my parents raised me with the tools and ability to survive and overcome loss, sorrow, fear, unexpected change, disappointment, career challenges, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, depression, trials and tribulations, tumbles into an abyss of despair and death of those most precious.
I feel gratitude for my ability to rise from the ashes like the Phoenix of mythology. If I were ever to get a tattoo, it would be of the Phoenix, representing my resiliency. I know I am a survivor. As I learned during my years in Al Anon recovering from the insanity of living with an alcoholic spouse, I have no control over other people, places and things - only my reaction or attitude. And I choose resiliency.
My father is coming to spend Christmas with us in Virginia this year and I know that we will celebrate our memories of the past and our determination to embrace the present and our time together with joy and gratitude.