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AGING WELL: The cycle of life continues Missy Buchanan, Dec 29, 2008
By Missy Buchanan Special Contributor
My son Matthew tenderly placed his newborn son next to my mother’s face. She lay in a hospital bed in a nursing facility. At 92 years old, she was fragile and weak, unable to hold her firstborn great-grandchild in her arms.
Over the last few weeks, I had wondered if she’d live long enough to meet the child of her grandson. She had endured the persistent pain of severe arthritis during the past few years. Then came a shattered bone.
Just days after she moved from the hospital to a skilled nursing center, her great-grandson Quintin Joseph was born, bringing seven pounds of joy into the world. Now my mother was meeting him for the first time.
Matthew snapped a picture that would capture my heart forever. It was a photo of their hands, young and old. My mother’s hand, wrinkled with age and experience. Quintin’s tiny hand, infant fingers eager to explore.
A few days later, my mother died while I stood at her bedside. Quintin’s picture hung on the wall at the foot of her bed. And so it goes. This blessed cycle of life.
I have another favorite photograph of my mother taken over 20 years ago. She’s standing at the ocean’s edge, looking to the horizon. She’s holding the small hand of my younger daughter Beth, then a 4-year-old child.
The waves are lapping at my mother’s ankle, my daughter’s knee. If my mother had not been steadying Beth with a strong grip, the current would have likely knocked her down.
I think the image captures my mother’s life better than words ever could. She was a gentle spirit who has helped each of us stand firm against the tide while pointing us toward God.
And so I wonder. Is there any greater love a grandmother can give a child than to hold fast to him when life is hard and point him to the Creator?
How I wish my grandson could have heard my mother read his favorite Dr. Seuss books. I wish he could have cuddled up next to her at a campfire and watched the flames dance in the night sky. I wish he could have looked out from a school program and have seen her beaming at his success.
Certainly, life holds a myriad of surprises that only God can pull off. Like the first time I saw my grown son tenderly cradle his infant son. Like the pure delight in my husband’s eyes as he became Poppy for the first time. Like the unspeakable joy that comes in the midst of sorrow and reminds us that God is in control.
I hope my new grandson will discover in me the gentle ways of my mother. I will read stacks of books to him and help him toast marshmallows over a fire.
But most of all, I want to be the kind of grandmother who will steady him when waves of life try to knock him down and will point him to the One who loves him most of all.
Ms. Buchanan, a member of FUMC Rockwall, Texas, is the author of Living with Purpose in a Worn Out Body (Upper Room Books).