My Mortality is Calling to Me

My mortality is calling to me.

Another cherished member of the generation before me? Gone. Crossed through the portal, to the other side. Received by a welcoming committee. So many have gone this way in recent years.

Among them, my mother. My father. This friend. Number three, in 2020 alone.

The inevitably of time, passing. A line of elders crossing, from one world to the next. Leaving vacant, places of eldership.

The next generation? My generation? Reluctant. Reluctant to occupy these spaces. Not a mantle willingly or joyfully embraced. A mantle passed on by necessity. By the advancement of time. Cycles of life. And death. Venerable, honourable, vacant spaces.

My mortality is calling to me. With some astonishment, I realize, I am in my third third.

I can look ahead. I can look ahead and see. Clear to the end. Is it another decade? Two? Maybe three? If I’m lucky? Or if I’m not?

Who am I now? Who do I want to be? What is it that is mine to do in this third third?

Life is a current. It has pulled me along. It has shaped me. Shaped my journey. I see the nuances. Fluctuations. Tributaries. Of this current. Sometimes meandering. Sometimes radical passage. Eddies and rapids that have been wake up calls. And decision points.

A stream near my home, in the spring, when it was full and overflowing, bubbling along.

My mortality is calling to me. I am invited to examine this moment. To scan the future. To choose pathways. To invoke the whole of who I am. To step courageously into divine destiny. Burning with passion, for contributions, only I can make.

Potent. Powerful. Radiant. Joyful.

Looking back, I see departure points. A very different choice would have taken me to a very different place. To a very different me. In some ways.

Looking forward, from decision points right in front of me, very different pathways stretch into the future. I can see each through to the end. Different choices. Different versions of me.

My mortality is calling to me. What is the destiny I want to grab hold of? To live fully? Unapologetically? Meaningfully?

Of the paths before me, which will take me to the wildest, most coherent, most loving, version of who I can choose to be?

That. That is the path. The path that invites me. Into its embrace. Its adventure. That is the path I choose to shape. That I choose to let shape me. In my third third.

My mortality is calling to me.

Hector Jourdain: A Modest Man, Life and Legacy

Today would have been dad’s 87th birthday. He wanted to live until he was 90. He also wanted to live out his days in his house, which he did. He was a walking miracle over the last few decades of his life. He was sustained by a strong will to live and a deep faith.

Over the years and various health crises he kept adjusting his ideas of what good quality of life meant for him until he reached the point where he could not see beyond sitting and sleeping in his chair and making his way into and through the kitchen to the back door or the bathroom. He knew he could no longer find his way downstairs to the “magnet” in the basement that was the Bluefin model he was working on.

71 - 32087394_10155921192792740_8555127562852892672_nDad was partly defined by the patterns of his generation. He craved relationship with family and friends, with my children and their partners. Although everyone valued their relationship with him, he wished it could be more. The pattern of his generation is that it was the younger ones who minded the older ones. My mother always used to say, “Age before beauty.” It was another way of voicing respect for your elders.

My father taught me the importance of nurturing relationship. Our relationship grew over the last decade of his life. I learned a good pattern of checking in with him by phone or by visit. I used to leave him a list of my travel plans so he knew where I was when. If I called too often, he would get irritable. If I didn’t call often enough, he got irritable. I know he was lonely and he missed my mother and he wished my brother and I would visit more often and for longer.

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My mother had been in long term care for awhile when this picture was taken on some special occasion. In this picture, you can see the love my father had for my mother radiating out in his gaze.

His desire for relationship stays present with me as I reflect on what is the relationship I want with my children and grandchildren? How do I make sure I nurture and sustain them, individually and collectively? This applies to my partner, my siblings and other close relationships too. It is easy to lose track of people, even people who have been close and for far too much time to go by without reaching out.

My brother and I are now charged with the dismantling of dad’s house, which is akin to the dismantling of the physical aspects of his life. Some things are easy. There are books that are decades old that nobody has read in forever, papers that were important to dad but of no value to anyone else, things that have accumulated over the years that were part of dad’s day to day existence but, again, of no value to anyone else.

There are other things that have value and that are harder to deal with. My father was careful with his money. He often worried about whether he would have enough money to live out his days. He did. Robert and I were reflecting on how dad never threw out any furniture and some of it is from when mom and dad got married 62 years ago.

Very little expense was spared for the Bluefin, for his machining workshop where he repaired engines or his woodworking workshop where he built rowboats, repaired a canoe and worked on the model of the Bluefin. But there was not a penny spent without careful consideration and a lot of thought about whether it was the right choice. He has boxes and boxes of screws, nails, washers, fittings and so much more, because he could see potential in them. He often said he should probably get rid of some things but as soon as he did he would need it. Now Robert and I need to figure out what to do with it all.

My father’s parents had been millionaires in their lifetimes. My mother’s parents hadn’t been millionaires to my knowledge, but they lived well enough. My grandmothers each outlived my grandfathers by 2 or 3 decades. In the end, when they all left this world, there was no inheritance left for my parents for a variety of valid reasons.

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Summer 2019. Painting the porch had been on his mind. I finally took charge and did what I could for him.

My father was a self made man. I’m sure he is satisfied that he managed his affairs well and well enough that there is a legacy left for me and my brother. It certainly isn’t millions. It is a modest amount that reflects the modest lifestyle of a modest man.

Happy birthday dad. Know you are remembered well and will always be loved by so many of us still walking on this side of the veil.