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Around 6 A.M., I woke with two encouraging dreams:

I’m tall, strong, sun-tanned, and wearing a cantaloupe-colored dress with a slightly darker A-line coat. I’m alone, content as I watch for what happens next.

I visit the Jesuit staff at their Gloucester, Massachusetts retreat house. After supper that evening, we sit around telling stories laced with boisterous humor. I laugh so hard my jaw aches, and my eyes glisten.

Both dreams reveal wellness in my psych, despite chronic symptoms slowing down my body. Never have I looked so beautiful as in the first dream, my body perfectly proportioned, the cantaloupe colors of my attire enhancing my complexion and brunette wavy hair. I appear patient, which is not always the case in my conscious world. When not surrendered to my habitual slowness, anger flares like a book of matches and engulfs me in more distress until I wake up to the marauder.

The Jesuit staff in the second dream suggests the camaraderie of the masculine principle in my psyche: energized, loving, humorous, unhampered, attentive—each supportive of my conscious efforts to deal with my terminal illness, despite occasional pitfalls of grief. Such a gift uplifts my spirits for yet another twenty-four hours.

The image of the retreat house in my psyche suggests an enclosure with ceaseless prayer; that of the supper, our having participated in some kind of communion service—the Mass, perhaps.

The élan from these dreams thrusts me back to that sacred place, Eastern Point Retreat House, integral for my on-going spiritual development since 1984.

I still long to sit beside the Atlantic and study its movements. My Dreamer knows …

It happened at 3:15 P.M., November 12, 1935, a breech birth at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri—a rough experience for Mother and me, but we survived: she to ninety-nine years and three months. On subsequent birthdays when older, I honored her over lunch at Sadie’s or The Crossings, her favorite restaurants. Again, I heard the story. 

So this day, I completed my eighty-fifth year of life; from this vantage point, a gift, despite decades of rheumatoid arthritis, with its corrective joint surgeries. Obsessing over treatment modalities, all of which were ineffective, also flooded my psyche with anxiety and stunted my psycho-social growth. Most of my life, I searched for my true identity, even achieved three advanced degrees and certification to work with the elderly poor. Interesting that they readily shared their stories, with no prompting from me. In my depths, I wondered if I had a story.

Until retirement in 2001, my life felt splintered, a fact corroborated by dream work with a Jungian analyst who insisted I begin writing. I did so. Memories flooded me, and with them, the next right word began to surface, startling evidence of my Inner Writer. I would write myself into new wholeness.

Years passed. It felt like taking dictation as two self-published memoirs and my blog emerged.  

I stand corrected…

Soon I will begin my ninth month in hospice care—a period of waiting, praying, and blogging about my terminal illness: Interstitial Lung Disease with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Yet, my body shows no signs of dying, other than weakness, shortness of breath, and the wear and tear of eighty-four years.

Little did I realize that musing in the ambulance—I wonder of this will be a life changing event—would, in fact, come true. That was in June 2017 when I tripped over the cord of my vacuum cleaner and fractured several bones. Surgeries, rehab, and two months of personal care in my home followed this event. Still, I thought, in time, I’d return to my former level of functioning. That did not happen, but I failed to see the obvious implications: my body was old and no doctoring could fix that.

Hidden from me was the abhorrence of old age with its spend-saver diminishments. That was not for me. Because I observed the directives of my Pilates coach, I imagined my elder years with full functioning. Besides, our mother lived to be ninety-nine years old.

Rather than focus upon my end-time, as if I’m unique in that regard, I choose to open up the riches packed within the gift of old age: prayer, singing, listening, story telling, and laughing, gifts found in Shakespeare’s King Lear. Perhaps there are still more gifts, unknown to me at this blogging, with their incentive to renew my trust in Creator God, the source of my words.

Indeed, the end of my existence will come, but not before I’ve lived fully in old age, a new container for my psyche.





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