Eating With 85 Year Old Women
“James, I’m eating dinner with her in the cafeteria at the care home and she thinks we are at a reception on a cruise ship.”
One of the guys I coach told me, “I never eat dinner with her for an hour and a half, but I just had a sense that this was a special time. So I lingered. And with her dementia, she was out of it most of the conversation. But there were three statements that she said, in the midst of lots of random incoherent thoughts, but those three things I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
I was on the edge of my seat.
“This frail old women looked me in the eyes from across the table, she was peering into me, and said, ‘You don’t have very many years to do what you’re supposed to do…’ And then she went on talking about the dancing happening around her. We kept eating and then again she looked right at me, ‘Keep it short… those things that don’t bring you joy.’ Back to the waiter that was so real in her failing mind. And the last statement, it was like she was fully herself, she said, ‘Help me… help me die.’ So I asked her if she wanted me to be in the room, holding her hand. She did.”
Then just this week, a woman I coach had lunch with a different elderly woman. “James I asked her, ‘If you could go back to where I am in my life, knowing what you know now, what would be different.'”
Great question. This 85 year old woman, who raised kids as a single mom, hard worker through all the seasons of her life, simply said, “I wouldn’t worry. Everything works out. We try so hard to work everything out… but everything works out.”
These two ladies don’t know each other. They lived completely different lives many miles apart. Yet each at the end are talking about time.
We who are in middle of our time don’t see what they see. You may not be able to find an 85 year old woman to eat with, but I want to ask you:
Why do you spend your time the way you are?
You don’t have very many years, what now?
What do you need to keep short?
What will you stop trying to work out?
How will you look back on your time?