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where nothing ever grows old

Where Nothing Ever Grows Old

by Andrea
September 15, 2012

Today I am writing about nothing. Nothing at all. And yet, to my endless surprise and delight, there seems to be plenty to say about nothing. When I really look and feel into this topic of nothing, I feel swept away into something that I want to know, and want to bring new words to. In this nothing I feel more myself than anything else, and there is a great and deep happiness there.

Over these past two years I have discovered this place of nothing in my mother, who is now 94 years old. And more than discovering this place of nothing in her, it has become the foundation of my relationship with her. It is the quality of this nothing that lives between us—and has made for the deepest joy I could ever imagine with her. Discovering this place of nothing two years ago changed everything.

I know this may sound crazy, but after years of contemplating this, I’m finding it’s not. Many people who know my mother well are noticing that in some ways she is better today than she was 2 years ago (before I discovered this nothing between us). More herself. Less anxious. More loving. Sweeter to be with. Some people have asked why. 

Sadly, as our senior population (our aging parents) grow frail, we all too often stop taking them seriously. We see them as “old people” and assume that they have lost their substance or sense of self. We often treat them as children. I know, how humiliating. This hit me hard when, in response to my families concern about an inexplicable illness my mother had about 10 years ago, a doctor told us “she’s just an old lady.” Oy, did that hurt. True, memories go (happening to many of us already, right?) capacities diminish, and bodies grow weaker, but does this equate to who our aging seniors (and someday, us) are? I think most of us know the answer is no. And yet, maybe without realizing it, somewhere along the way we stopped taking our seniors (and our own aging parents) seriously. This is hard to see—and many of us don't want to see it. I didn't want to see it. But I saw it anyway. And so this became the single most important (pain) point that motivated me to want to do something different with my mother. I didn't know for sure, but I had to find out if something else was possible. And so I began a new journey with my mother two years ago.

This brings me back to nothing—that place of nothing, which lives within and between us humans, and never, ever grows old. It never grows frail. It never loses capacity. It doesn’t care about memories. And so when my mother loses her orientation, and says something out of reality, like wondered when my father will be home (even though he died 35 years ago—which she temporarily forgot) I don’t take this seriously, and I don’t worry. I know she has just momentarily lost her footing, and if I create a problem or drama out of it, she might not regain her footing. Instead I find it pretty amazing that after 35 years, she has faithfully held him in her heart, and has kept him alive in there. I know that. I’ve done the same. But only in that place of nothing, where nothing ever grows old, and no one ever dies.

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