Returning to my seat at the airport gate, Joe motioned with his eyes, for me to observe the three people sitting just in front of us. Their backs were to us, so I did not readily see what he was trying to tell me. He quietly said, “Just watch, I’ll be right back.”
Within moments, the 45-50 year old man began conversing with the elderly couple in their late 70’s to early 80’s – more than likely his parents. The son stood, and wobbled away with mom following after him.
It hit me hard: this was Joey, Joe and I in fifteen years; maybe twenty. It was intriguing. It was sad. It was hard. It was educational. It made the future seem all too real.
I could tell the son had difficulty speaking and making his needs known, but what intrigued me most was how little conversation there was between the parents. They did not look at each other. They may have shared 4 words. They seemed quiet, sad, and burdened. I don’t want to be judgmental, because they may have been tired after much travel, or perhaps they were sadly taking their son to a group home where they might never see him again, or perhaps they had said everything they needed to say over the course of these many years of caring. I just know that the picture I was viewing looked and felt sad.
This scenario nudges me to be intentional as I live the days I’m given with our son. I want each day to be lived with fullness, joy, in fun, and yet in the reality that there are “those days” of challenge and frustration, too! I want to live each day that way so when we reach that end stage of life, we can have joy and fullness and fun then, too. I want to embrace life and look for the benefits. IF we do that, we’ll look for ways to appreciate all aspects of life. When I think over the 30+ years of caring for our son (he turns 31 this month!), I’m reminded of the many wonderful things we’ve learned and experienced that one can’t know until there further into the journey…..
- We’ve relied on God, not ourselves, in our challenging situations
- Learned our weaknesses and who we were in the midst of them
- Was clearly able to determine what was realistic about life, what was important, and what to let go – coming to recognize the privilege of serving our loved one
- Learned discipline helping our son develop routines to deal with constant and unending challenges
- Developed flexibility in our attitudes and in daily adjustments, making quick changes often
- Watched our son overcome obstacles that our other children and children around us found very simple
- There have been many wonderful people we’d never have met had we not taken this journey
- Have learned to see the value in every life, not the length or quality of life but its value
- And so much more…….
So instead of fast forwarding the time I have, I’ll excuse myself and go pop that bowl of popcorn the three of us will share – watching the sports game my son so enjoys! “Here’s to the present!”