It was with intrigue that I first heard the phrase: “Aging is a diminishing experience”. I remember the time and place as a medical/ethical conference at Trinity Seminary in 2001. The guest speaker. who introduced this thought. was Vernon Grounds. He had earned the right to speak about aging, as the day of this lecture was his eighty seventh birthday.
I followed him closely as he described moving from a big house to a smaller house, from the smaller house to the apartment, and then from the apartment to the one room assisted living. As he taught I remembered that our farmyard lawn was filled with people for my grandmothers seventy-fifth birthday, but for her ninety-fifth, four people sat around the kitchen table.
This has all come back to my memory as I watch my husband, who is eighty-nine, cut our grass on a riding lawn mower. It is one of the few “in control” activities he enjoys as he has given up driving.
Yes, I watch, but I watch critically. He is not taking the tractor to the outer edges of the lawn. The lawn is diminishing in size because the borders are not displaying their full potential.
Everything in me wants to get on the tractor and fix it.
Yet, I know, this is not the loving thing to do.
So, I call my friend, who is ninety-three. (By now some of you are wondering about my age. It is seventy-three). My friend says what I knew she would say. “Roselyn, absolutely not.” I know she was saying I cannot trade the size of our lawn for my husband’s dignity.
This friend has earned the right to counsel me. She has processed the loss of moving from a private home to an apartment and now to a one room assisted setting. She is the one from whom I first heard the term “the grace to be diminished”.
I told her that I was experiencing a restless spirit. I wondered if I needed to give my external circumstances the opportunity of reconciling with my heart.
Oh, Yes, She agreed.
“When you move from a king size bed to a twin, you need to make sure the sheets fit”