©M. Karpel, 2024

One in a series of Lessons from Mom

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it.”       ~ Mother Teresa

NOTE: You an also read Dr. Mara’s blog on Medium. 

Mom lived to almost 95 years with multiple physical obstacles and overcoming one health challenge after another. Yet, she continued to live life with joy and passion. And her passion came from her love, her interest in others, her desire to make new friends and stay connected to her old friends, her enjoyment of activities she could still engage in, like listening to music and playing gin rummy, and her continued use of her mind, with interest in what was happening in the world. And she always ended up adapting to the changes in her own physical abilities, even if she fought hard to keep whatever independence she could.

As I wrote about in my blog, Ageism in Healthcare: The Dark Side of Hospice, about two and ½ years ago, which was two years prior to her passing, Mom spent a month in the hospital. During that time, the attending doctor and medical team tried to convince my family that she should be in hospice, although I knew she was not dying, nor that she wanted to die. What the medical staff failed to know or care about was that, during that time, my mom kept asking when she could go to physical rehabilitation to get on with her life. It never occurred to her that this was the end of the road for her because, in spite of what doctors saw when they looked at her 92-year-old body and her difficulty with clear speech due to a prior mild stroke, my mom was not ready to leave this world. She knew she had more life to live, more joy to experience, and more love to give. She never gave up hope during all of her many medical challenges throughout her later years. This strong sense of hope that my mom held onto was the key to her survival, in spite of all those struggles. And it was the key to her, not only surviving, but to thriving, continuing to live a joyful life for two more years, even after that month-long hospital stay. The general practitioner who visited her in the community where she used to reside, told us that my mom was like a cat with nine lives, except that Mom had more like thirteen.

Throughout the years, her functional abilities and, subsequently, her independence, were stolen from her, each loss taking a piece of her hope with it. But, my mom, like a starfish that loses a limb, with her zest for life, would quickly grow back that hope.

I wonder how me might treat each other with more love and acceptance if we were each to remind ourselves that life is precious and that hope is the key to keeping alive our passion for living it.

You can read similar blogs by Dr. Mara and listen to her internet radio show. Now also on Apple Podcasts.  Check out Dr. Mara’s internationally best-selling book, The Passionate Life: Creating Vitality & Joy at Any Age, now available on Audible!   And be sure to follow her on Facebook!