C.S. Lewis observed that most people referred to as “saints” on earth probably have excellent digestive systems. It's easier to act saintly when you feel well.
Alas, Jerry demoted me from sainthood on the fourth day following my surgery.
It's amazing how distracting physical disability can be. I thought I'd read and write great things during convalescence, but I hurt and my mind was mush and mostly I lay on the couch and sobbed over endless episodes of Animal Rescue.
During all this Jerry popped in and cheerfully told me that Pat had said his 97-year-old aunt recently had the same operation and was back in the garden the week after.
To which I replied something quite un-called for.
Kelly once told me she wanted her Down syndrome to go away and of course, as Mom, my heart broke. She knew the Down syndrome was always there, and more, she was beginning to realize it always would be.
Jerry understood this better than I. He had polio as a little guy, and it, too, was always there–the braces, the surgeries, the limp, the pain, the return of it all in later years. His whole life has been framed by it.
We'd prefer life to be unlimited, pleasant, and predictably subject–ha, ha–to our control.
So now I'm feeling reasonable well again. If I were ten years younger I'd shrug my shoulders and get back into the fray. However, I've been not to the mountaintop, but to the deep valley, and I've seen a different promised land, and Jerry and I peer into the years wherein a “rope will be tied round our waist and we will be led where we would rather not go.”
I am soon to be 69 and he 73.
This surgical adventure has been a watershed moment in our lives. We understand better now what it means that our choices will be narrowing and we must plan for possibilities we'd rather not think about.
Like Kelly, we want to stamp our foot indignantly and wish it away.
But it's time to revisit the will, sort through the thousands of family photos, and chase a few relatives down on Ancestry.com, and also to unpack and sort out a lifetime of spiritual and emotional baggage.
Just as we make careful individualized plans with our Ranchers every year, we must do so for ourselves. We hold each another accountable and serve as each other's case manager and chief noodge, and the responsibility for Kelly and the Ranch community weighs on us beyond measure.
But, once we've got these things reasonably settled for now (sure as plans are laid they change), we'll muddle on with life, wherever it leads. We get to pick how we'll face these last years on earth. We pray God will give us the grace to choose joy regardless of what we must face.
But of course, not yet.