Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Journey The Heart Takes

Several older women were touring our local botanical gardens yesterday. I followed them. These pictures were taken through my car's windows. I hoped they would forgive me for the invasion of their privacy.

Some elderly are able to maintain a more outward-looking attitude as they age. Others dwell inward. Who can say why we are as we are? (Go ahead and 'click'. She's so cute photographing the flowers).

This is the way I'd like to age. Moving forward. Eyes open. Seeking beauty.

This dear little lady never looked up at the statue of a mother dancing with her child.

I wanted to go to her and wrap my arms around her frail shoulders.

I've been a little melancholy this Spring. The aging brain? The number '60'? The inevitable contrast between one's creaky body and the unrestrained suppleness in the garden, trees, ponds and sky? Possibly. I imagine it's a bit of everything and it probably colors my observations.

But, really. Whether or not it was merely my melancholy that whispered that these images needed to be recorded - I love them.



Sandy said...

That is what I want, too! My mom is still interested in everything at 84, and still tends her garden, and enjoys beauty. Maybe I have the right genes, how about you?

NatureWoman said...

Lots of stories, both happy and sad, in those ladies' brains, for sure. This is a really nice post Cathy. I hope I always enjoy spending time in my gardens / others' gardens, etc.

KGMom said...

Cathy--sweetie--you are such a tender heart. You look at old ladies and emphathize with them. You see a frail woman and want to protect her. And you say you are melancholic--you feel too deeply. Maybe someone should take care of you!
Hope your friends out here in blogland help with our care and concern for you.
Glad you are back, by the way!

Lynne said...

kgmom said it perfectly- you do have a tender heart. I'm so glad you're back- I missed you!

My heart aches for that last lady too.

Body Soul Spirit said...

Lovely post! At least the frail lady is out in the garden. I see many who withdraw so much as they age that they cannot be enticed them to go outdoors at all. I would guess that she has had a broken hip, that she has poor vision, and has trouble seeing the statue at all. Our downtown park has a sensory garden for those who cannot see well. The plants are fragrant, textured to touch and there is a fountain with running water. I would love to talk to both of your ladies!

Cathy said...

Sandy -
I had to smile at your question as to whether or not I received the right genes for a happy, engaged old-age. Oh my. I don't know yet. I'm hoping this could be a mind-over-matter situation, but if my mind keeps going . . . . ;0)

Pam -
Thank you. You know - I was going to mention that I while I observed these women I did wonder what their stories were. I think it's so human to try to read a person's history as we observe from a distance.
What is it about a garden?

Donna -
I was a little reluctant to post this. Your gentle response reassures me that we may reveal our hearts safely among friends. And it is, indeed, a friend - who receives us as we are - uncritically, and with love.
Thank you, friend.

Lynne -
Thank you, for the hug. It's a very special one from a very special lady :0) I know we all experience empathy. Perhaps mine remains in over-drive more than is conducive for a bit more healthy stoicism. Hmmm. You know? I think my Grandma Gladys did this. I'm thinking we don't have much say about our temperaments.

Ruth -
As I posted this I thought about you and wondered what your response would be. I knew you would speak with the wisdom of someone who has worked patiently with the elderly who are struggling with issues of aging.
What an enlightened community you live in! What a lovely idea.
It is my hope that there will be "Ruth's" out there for all of us as we make this passage. It may be your job description, but I know you bring more than your skills to your patients - 'caring' heals the body and soul and spirit.

robin andrea said...

These are such touching photos. The eye behind the view-finder is so kind and empathetic. Sometimes I think it is hard not to be melancholy when you take a long look around.

Cathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LauraHinNJ said...

I'm glad you want to reach and hug that little old lady - I would too.

I think the kindest thing we can do for elderly people is to listen to them. They have such wonderful stories to tell and often are so glad to have a new ear to share them with.

Cathy said...

I'm so glad you dropped by to share your observation and kind remark. Yes, I think there is a price to be paid by 'really' looking. But, do we have a choice? How may we live fully if we fail to see? It's always a relief to know that I'm not alone in refusing the rose-colored glasses, though maybe a could use a titch of pink in my myopia-correcting current ones :0)

Laura -
Such wisdom there, yes! I'm headed to my 86 year old mother's Friday and plan to do exactly that: to listen and treasure the moments, her merriment and memories.

I drive elderly blind women to monthly meetings. Their stories charm me. Their determination to keep going gives me hope as I watch the human spirit surmounting losses of every kind.

Patrice said...

Beautiful, Cathy. Your keen sense of observation and your compassionate heart tell a story (poem) most of us would never see. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Pam said...

Your heart truly is tender and warm, this is a lovely post.

It has been my experience that a little melancholy goes with age from time to time, but if we are 'forward looking' and don't dwell on what cannot be changed, it passes.

Your tribute to these ladies shows how open and kind you are.

Mary said...


Thanks for this lovely post even though I have a knot in my throat. The frail lady could be my own Mother...sadly, she just did not, *or would not*, see anymore. Yes, I can envision you wrapping your arms around her as you are caring. You would have caused her to smile and notice the statue.

You WILL age with an onward and outward attitude, Cathy! There's no other way for you :o)

Melancholy can be a good thing. Look how you have enriched our day by recording your thoughts.


Cathy said...

Patrice -
Thank you, Patrice. I guess it was poem-like in that it needed expression. My poems always seem self-directed like that. You know - 'the lump in the throat, a homesickness ' that Frost mentions as being the source of poetry.

Pam -
Thank you so much.
I know you have culled much wisdom from your life experiences.
Yes! Yes! "Forward looking , , " It's the wisest approach to life we may take. As for kindness - as you know - if we've experienced great need - and another offered a hand - we pass it on.

Mary -
I know the pain of your mother's decline and death remain with you, though the weeks and months soften it a bit.
You, dear lady, have done what I pray for. You find the smiles on the cloudiest of days and pass them along to your grateful blogging buddies.
You are my role-model and here's your {{Hug}} - with thanks:0)

nina said...

It's so reassuring to hear so many feel so lovingly toward elderly that we may not even know.
I cannot be near my elderly mother, and every time I reach out to an older person at the store or wherever I may come across someone, I hope there's another in my place, across the miles, caring lovingly for my mom.
This is an encouragement to me that there might be.

Cathy said...

Nina -
That is a lovely sentiment. Yes, rest comfortably in the knowledge that others will lend a steadying hand - a smile - to help your mother navigate the shoals.
If the sampling above is any indicator - and I know it is - the human heart is a wondrously beautiful thing.

Bonita said...

Really, we start to feel a little melancholy at 60. Life becomes more precious. I took care of little ole ladies like this, for 6 years until I retired a few years ago. It was a very rich experience.

Cathy said...

Bonita -
When I first learned that you cared for elderly people, my response was one of prayerful, hopeful longing that if and when I should be in need of the kind ministrations of others - that there will be a Bonita in my fortunate life.
It relieves me to know that someone so forward looking and full of life like you - knows what I mean about melancholy. If you, too experience a bit of this somber inward-turning - then perhaps I don't need to chastise myself for ingratitude.

Laurie said...

What beautiful photos and such a wonderful sentiment. I hope that I age that way as well.

Hugs to you dear Cathy. May your melancholy lift soon.


threecollie said...

Such sweetly poignant pictures. I thank you for sharing them. My mom sent me some old photos she was recently given of my late grandparents and these reminded me so much of my Grandma.

Tim Burns said...

I especially like expression of the woman on the third photo. Its like she's just savoring the beauty of the roses. She's so in the moment, it makes me wish I could meet her. Really lovely photo.

Larry said...

I think we all need to appreciate people who are aging.-It's going to happen to all of us-so we need to put ourselves in their shoes.
-Nice post Cathy.

burning silo said...

I expect I'll be like the lady with the camera -- looking for things to photograph for as long as I can. I agree with what robin has said: it is hard not to be melancholy when you take a long look around. I seem to have always had what I can only describe as an "artist's eye" that perhaps causes me to look at things carefully -- really looking. Much of what I see makes me feel a little sad (or sometimes a lot sad). I'm always amazed at people who just march along, barely seeming to notice what's happening to people around them. Anyhow, I know you are one of the people who look carefully. It's a gift, but one one that has its bittersweet moments.