Keith and I were fortunate. We had our parents around until we ourselves were pretty well advanced in years. Yet, both of us felt this sense of uncovering as we said our final good-byes. We are now the oldest ones. There is no one left to parent us, to offer that particular kind of loving, knowing wisdom.
We should now be the purveyers of wisdom. We should be the ones who have something of significance to offer those behind us. But I am asking the questions that I would guess our parents also asked: is anyone willing to listen?
Seriously, is any generation willing to listen to the one before them? Don't we all think we can do it better than they did?
Technological changes clearly have altered our communication and vocational landscapes, but have they have altered the wisdom necessary to live one's life well? Have we, as human beings, fundamentally changed? Do we not still need redeeming? Do we not still need an awareness of the need for grace in our lives as we recognize that most of us must be forgiven much? Do we not need the power of the presence of God to transform us, so we might be transformational agents to those around us and to the world that so greatly needs it?
At 1:15 a.m. this morning, two lovely and kind women from the Dallas Country Medical Examiners office came to my mother's house to pick up her body. My mother, generous to the end, knew that the unusual way she had dealt with her health would make her a very, very good subject for some lucky medical student. The two women who came for her were awed at two things in particular: first, my mother's beauty. When the challenge of still trying to breathe finally ended, and she fully relaxed in the arms of Jesus, the physical shell left behind was also transformed into exquisite loveliness. Second: the choices my mother had made health-wise that are going to be such a gift to the medical world. They don't get many like her.
I learned so much from her, and much of that were things I didn't want to learn from her. In our disagreements, I began to understand myself better. In her death, I've discovered more than ever who I am, and what I have to offer to the world.
So, I am now the oldest generation. As such, I carry a holy responsibility to live with grace, wisdom and power that does everything possible to give these gifts to those coming after me, whether they want to receive them or not.
As for me right at this moment: I am tired, but at peace. I did what I needed to do these last long few weeks since her catastrophic stroke on August 13, 2010. So did the rest of her family, and this was a wonderful, final gift to her, a holy act.
I just heard from a member of my church--his dad has just died unexpectedly. I had buried his mother last spring. I will be going back to work sooner than expected, but that is OK. Mother would have done the same. Thanks be to God.