I thought of my parents the other day as I was throwing out some empty prescription bottles. They took a lot of medications as they got older, and they had so many empty bottles all the time. How they kept up with refills I don't know, but they managed quite well somehow.
sent them to Africa to be re-used. Apparently in Africa finding ways to get the pills safely home with people is difficult, and reusing the bottles saves a lot of money for the medical missions. So Dad would carefully remove the labels with a scraper, which took quite a bit of time as he had bad arthritis in his hands. At the time I thought, how silly. Now I see it differently.
Because, you see, it was really about remaining relevant even as age and accompanying health issues restricted my parents' ability to be out and doing. Travel was difficult, painful and time-consuming and they spent more and more time at home. Eventually Dad had to give up driving; Mom had stopped years ago. So they were reliant on others to take them shopping, to appointments and to church. The priest began coming to their home in the last few months of Mom's life because getting to church became too much for her.
But they found things they could still do, ways they could contribute to the wider world. They kept table scraps and composted them. Mom had a back-porch herb garden on a stand so that she could care for it easily. Sometimes they grew lettuce and onions there too.
They recycled their trash, carefully separating paper and glass and metal. Dad flattened boxes so they took up less space, smashed cans flat and rinsed out glass and plastic containers before putting them into the recycle containers. Mom saved magazines to pass on to nursing homes and anyone else who wanted them rather than toss them in the trash. They shredded paper and recycled that too.
They were fierce prayer warriors. Their prayers lists were long, and their morning and evening rosaries and other prayers took quite a while to complete. They prayed for many, many people, some that they knew, others perfect strangers to them. They took this mission seriously and devoutly.
|35th wedding anniversary, 1980. They shared 61 anniversaries|
in the end.
Today I am humbled by the words I've written here. In the past year I have been seeking ways to help. I may not be able to give much time, but I can give in other ways. I am finding what I care deeply about, like the flood victims, like this upcoming march. It's time to give back. It's time to honor my parents' wordless teachings.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.