My mother’s mother made many memorable statements on life. “You can judge a person’s life by how many funny-looking people come to the funeral” was one.
In her teens (and the teens of the last century), she met my grandfather while they attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington. He became the newspaper editor in Pineville, KY and then for the Lexington Herald. In a state where basketball is a religion, they were faithful followers.
In her 70’s her husband and brother died in the same year. “The two men in the world who think I’m perfect are gone,” she said.
At 90 she worried about breaking a hip: “nobody will like me anymore.” Sure enough, she lived for a year in a nursing home, knowing she’d never live anywhere else—everyone still loved her.
One dark night, she said to a nurse by her bed, “You know, I’ve lived a full and long life. My family is doing fine. I’m tired. I think it’s time to be with God and my husband.” She closed her eyes and rolled into the covers.
Soon enough, she rolled back toward the nurse, opened her eyes and proclaimed, “But wait…. Kentucky is playing basketball this Saturday!”
As her grandson, I’m disappointed Kentucky is not playing this Saturday. (Any pull with Saint Peter doesn’t help against Saint Peters.) And yet, I can smile as I wonder what’s coming next.
What brings you joy in life? Is the anticipation or the experience itself more meaningful to you? As Mary Oliver wrote in her poem The Summer Day: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”