I once stood at the bedside of an elderly woman as she wistfully breathed, what would turn out to be, her last few sentences.
Reaching my ears as the barely audible hiss of air breezing over 96-year-old vocal cords, these words, much as her captivated audience had to strain to hear, held more meaning, more poignancy, than most of today’s youth could muster in a twelve hour onslaught of quick-fire colloquialism.
Without going into verbatim, what she essentially said was that although she had already accepted this as her end, and while she was relatively content with the way her life had played out, if she had to do it over, there were a few areas that she would amend.
I recall her sighing deeply as she remembered all the energy that had been wasted over the years harbouring ill feelings towards others, often over matters so trivial her memory had long ago failed her on the reason for the discord. She spoke sorrowfully of how much effort is involved in maintaining any kind of negative emotion and how her life might have been that much simpler had she just let it be.
The point to take from this is that anger, hatred, enmity or in fact, disharmony of any kind requires a disproportionate amount of focus to maintain. To elaborate, look at the exact opposite emotion – bliss, love, passion or in fact, harmony of any kind. For the amount of energy expended in relation to the amount reciprocated, given that these positive emotions will generally yield a return of 90 – 100%, negative feelings are simply not a productive option. Many are easily angered, but nobody is easily angry.
This old woman regretted time spent holding grudges and I guess it would be fair to say, she now regretted ever having regrets at all.
The most meaningful thing she said though, the part of her speech that very much hit home and, although her glazed eyes weren’t truly focused on anyone, I could have sworn she was speaking to me directly: “Yearning for betterment … Such a terrible waste of time … Don’t pine … Don’t yearn for things to be … If it’s meant to be … It’s meant to be … Let life’s joys come to you … They’ll come to you … They’ll come … In the fullness of time … They’ll come … … Let it come natural.”
Circa 2003, mother to the mother of a close friend, in your memory, Phyllis, that one was verbatim.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Phyllis Surname
Photography by Wylie O Biddy