A few years back I had the privilege to attend a “celebration of life” of a very old lady. She died at the age of 96, surrounded by friends and family.
She gave birth to five daughters. They were each present at the celebration, alongside with their husbands, children, grandchildren.
It was an early Fall day, just like any days now. She died in a care home, not bigger than a large family house, where she spent the last 17 years of her life. Olive. This was her name. Olive was loved by her fellow “homies”- like they called themselves - as well as the caretakers.
The celebration started at 10 am and was going on until about 5 pm, basically a whole day event, according to her wishes and her family’s additions. It included a picnic in the garden, a chess tournament between her family and her friends, etc.
Being the curious little writer I am, I took the opportunity to do some “soul research” that day. Shhhh…. The family didn't know this. I did not think I would learn so much form this event, so I didn't ask their permission to be “interviewed”. I just casually ended up asking the same questions of all the daughters, son in laws, grandchildren and friends throughout the day.
“What is your favourite memory of grandma?”
“What will you tell your own grandchildren about her?”
“Do you think she loved living? Did she have a hard life? Was she pleasant to be with?”
Everyone had a story to tell. And even though I haven't closely known this lady, a life of a happy and amazing woman unfolded in front of my eyes.
No-one told me about the times of war. (I know they existed in her town, just like any other). No-one told me about her sacrifices of taking the kids to school, cooking for seven every day, working on the farm, staying up when they were sick, moving nine times in 20 years after her husband died. But everyone, without exception had a story about her joy:
She was loved, accepted and will be cherished by generations.
Her life story brought me back to my own family, my own mother. When I was young, she was a real martyr. (Things are better now, that no children live with her.) It is hard for me to open up about this, but this is the truth; I spent my fist 14 years listening to her complaining and blaming.
“Look at your pants. Broken and dirty again. Do you know how much I have to work to buy you a new one? “
“Homework? Again? I have so many other things to do in the kitchen…”
“Really? Life would be so much easier if you didn't always want something” ( be around)
“Get quiet. You are too much to handle.”
“Can you just stop moving? I go crazy just looking at you”
“I can not buy anything for myself all my money is spent on you”
I remember asking her often: Why? Why do you even have me if I’m such a burden. Please! Please go out and buy yourself new pants! I don’t need a new one. I go to school in this dirty one. Just stop blaming me. I didn't ask for this.
I left home when I was 14. My mom and I still have a hard time connecting, even though I know we both try real hard. I love her dearly. She did her best.
I guess what I’m trying to say here:
Dare to be happy.
Dare to take time for yourself.
Dare to pursue your passion. Dare to close your door sometime to meditate. To read a good book. To take a nap. Get out of your house to do something you LOVE doing.
That is what your children want. That is what the world needs. More happy women.
I now clearly see the connection between my job as a Yoga teacher and my childhood. How my encouraging women (and men) to take better care of themselves, to be “selfish” is the healing process of my own. When we carve time out for ourselves to take care of our soul, we become better servants for the rest of the day.
With every class I teach and every spine that feels better, I heal my mother. I help her (and myself) to become more aware and responsible for our own energy, so we don’ t end up blaming each other one day.
Olive. Her name in my mind is a constant reminder of this realization. “Oh-Live” I hear my heart beat her name as an echo to this thought.
“I believe in our ability to live an amazing life. Our choices shape our schedule, our body, our destiny. Choose well and enjoy the ride. "