Tonight I was talking to a dear friend who had spent all last night not able to sleep because her mother who lives a long distance away, is failing fast. She has just turned 90 and lives in her own apartment in a complex of like apartments with a main reception area where they can all gather at lunch time..She had always been independent and when her husband died several years ago, moved to this place which could help watch over her and still allow her independence. However she has recently been loth to get out of bed and the people come in the morning and they will leave her in bed and not even draw the curtains or make her take breakfast. So my friend is going to arrange another care programme where a person will come in and sit with her in the morning and afternoons. But of course at 90 with all her friends long gone, this old lady has run out of hope.. Hope that tomorrow will be different.. Hope that her health will improve, Hope that she will have the energy to leave her apartment and go visit or shopping.. But all the things that might have helped hope stay around are gone now, as she is so frail and starting to get confused.
I think that as you get towards your 9th decade, your body starts to know its almost time and starts to prepare in a way to get ready for the last stop en route. When on our last holiday together with my parents in the South of France, my mother said goodbye to the Mountains that were such a part of the scenery, she knew that it would be the last time she would see them, she visited older friends and said goodbye to them too... but it didn't stop her carrying out all her other things she would do each day at home , like catching the bus with my father to go to Mass each midday, to do her hospital visiting in the afternoons on her own.. to walk into town to have lunch out with my father, or just window shopping at the big stores. But in her heart she knew she was getting to the point where she would not be so fit to manage holidays and visiting much longer.. When hope is lost the mind and body turn in on themselves and it is very hard to persuade it to change.. if you ever can.. My friend's mother has lost hope and so she tries to sleep the time away to get to her destination faster,. because she is no longer fit and able to do the slightest things without help.. and that is not going to change now..
It will come to us all and actually I do wonder how I am going to cope.. Even with 5 children, I wouldn't want any of them to feel obliged to take me in to care for me in my dotage.. the best scenario would be to carry on until I just went to sleep and didn't wake up one morning... But this modern generation do not think twice about putting ma or pa into a 'nice'home... well what home is really nice??, its full of other old people abandoned for various reasons and rarely visited, so I am sure I would be trying to run away all the time! I just hope that I can live long enough to cope on my own and when I cannot- then fall asleep like another friend's uncle did.. He had been visiting his niece and was waiting for his wife to come down stairs to get into the car to drive home, so he sat and opened a newspaper and then died- a peaceful way to go although shocking for them to discover.. but kind to him..
Hope is the most valuable thing you have in your box of tricks to keep facing the world...I know that it has helped me deal with the situation I am left with.. they tell me that I must not give up hope- that things will change eventually... well, even if they don't and they are wrong, I do cling on to that last little bit of hope and it gets me through all my trials and tribulations.. Besides, I am too selfish and nosey to get really down and out for long, I want to know what's going on in the world, therefore I could never really just hide away..
So for me, as they say, Hope springs Eternal- Well, in the heart of this optimist, that must be right!