I recently went to visit one of my grandmothers at the small nursing home where she is being cared for beautifully. She has physical problems and also severe dementia, the combination of which means she needs 24 hour skilled nursing care. Her memory is so damaged that she doesn’t even recognize the caregivers that are there with her every day. When I went to see her, she confided to me, “[t]here are a lot of grandmas here, but we’re having a good time.”
One thing she remembers is that she spent much of her life working. As a single mom, she did incredibly well providing for my dad and uncle. She was always happy to see us grandkids but she was also usually coming or going from one work obligation to another. As a successful real estate agent, there was no going home and being done with your work day at 5 o’clock.
During my visit with her at the nursing home, she didn’t remember who I am or even where she was. When I asked her a question, she said a few times, “oh, I don’t remember, I was probably working.” As proud as I am of how hard my grandmother worked and that she was able to keep herself and her kids not just out of poverty but financially secure and comfortably middle class – at a time when being a single mother almost always meant being poor- I do hope that I remember more about my life than that I worked a lot. My grandmother may not have had many choices other than working her tail off, but I do. And you probably do, too.
What do you want to remember at the end of your life? The choices we make each day shape the pattern of our days and create the story that we will remember and be remembered by. We won’t remember what we hoped to choose, we will remember what we actually did. When you fill your days with pleasure, you are creating happy memories.
Now excuse me while I go do some yoga – because in addition to wanting to fill my memory with pleasure, I’m also hoping to have some flexibility left in my joints in my eighties.