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the summoning of an ageless smile

what do you do when you don't know what to do?

By Andrea | July 2016

What do you do when you don't know what to do? What do you do when you need to make an important decision, but the answers are not yet clear? What do you do when preoccupation sets in and pressure builds, making the process of deciding even more difficult? At this stage I often feel a thin veil develop between myself and the world. That's when I know I have to go within and listen. Listen as silence reveals its secrets. 

As those of you who know my mother (personally or through this blog) probably know, she spends her summers in a big old rustic cottage on Lake George in the Adirondacks. I have written many posts about my time with her there over these past 5 years. Since my mother stopped driving 5 years ago (at 93) my siblings and I have done everything we could to enable my mother to be there. For her it is a place of rich memories woven with the inevitable growing pains of raising a family of 9. Despite the highs and lows, every spring as the buds begin to awaken the Boston landscape, the lake starts calling. It calls with promises of another summer of love. "Come," it whispers.

Yes, every spring the lake begins to call, as if in great anticipation of seeing us again—especially my mother. And every year, without hesitation, we come. We jump through whatever practical hoops necessary, and sojourn our way through the winding and familiar roads from Massachusetts through New Hampshire and Vermont and ultimately to the Adirondacks of NY. 

Only this year something is different. For the first time ever, there is a hesitation. I feel it and my siblings feel it too. My mother is now 98 and change is tough at this age and stage of life. Will the trip be too much? Will the disruption from her stable environment disorient her? Will she insist on walking up 14 stairs to her bedroom rather than sleeping downstairs? Will she struggle to acclimate on her return to Boston? The answer to these questions is very likely yes. So is it the right thing to make this trip? Rationally speaking, maybe not.

the places we love

And yet, the lake still calls. Undaunted by age or circumstance, it calls. It has no interest in our hesitation. It doesn't hear it. It seems to know something that lies beyond the reaches of the rational mind. What is that? What is it saying? And so I listen. Quietly. Patiently, until a tender wind calms the fear and stirs the heart.

This is what I hear: My mother is elderly, yes. At this age, every day is unknown, precious and unpredictable. It is also a celebration. With every day that she is with us, her inner life shines through her quiet, warm smile. An ageless smile that opens the hearts of others, and without words, summons togetherness. I feel this and my siblings do as well. This may be the last summer we are able to be together at the lake. When something may be the last, life in all its beauty and infinite possibilities, looms large. This is what is calling. It is a desire from so deep within, it is beyond each of us. 

I don't know if this will be the last summer my mother will be able to make this trip. I hope it won't be. But for me, the answer of what to do this summer has arrived. I hear the whispers from the lake with greater respect and understanding. I look within and the hesitation is gone. I look ahead and the roads are clear. There are no obstacles to what is possible. So onward we go—my mother, myself, my siblings and our families—to accept the lake's invitation for another summer of love, to savor every moment as if it will be the last.

the summoning of an ageless smile

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