My grandmother is dying, and I'm doubtful that I will see her again. It is a sad moment, and also a time to think about letting go. My grandmother and I have been having pretty much the same conversation for the past 20 years or so. She asks how I am. I tell her what's going on and what I've been working on lately. She tells me that "somebody in this family has got to make it one of these days!" I ask how she is. She says, "What can I tell you, Todd? I'm getting older, my _______ hurts (fill in the blank here). It's hard for me to get around. But I don't like to complain... Then she reminds me that "whatever you do, with the RIGHT foot." And our conversation usually includes the old standard, "A person needs money, but money needs a person." I've spent years trying to figure this one out.
It is my impression that she has been ready to go ever since my grandfather died in 1980. But she is very stubborn, and despite her complaining, she doesn't give up easily. Now, it seems she has come to the point of no return. She has pneumonia again and is in hospice. They say it could be any day now that she leaves us. I know that I will miss her. And it is a reminder that I am growing older and that life must change and move on to new stages and new developments. I suppose it is also an opportunity and a chance to gain new perspective. I realize that I am now as old as my dad was when his father died.
I feel lucky to have had my grandmother this long. And I also know that in order to grow, it is necessary to let go of the life you are familiar with and venture out into the unknown. At this time of the year, as I prepare for the upcoming High Holidays, it's time to take stock of my life and to see what still fits and feels authentic and what no longer applies. It is a time of forgiveness... both of myself for having fallen short of expectations (my own and my grandmother's), and of others who, after all, are only human and are doing the best they can. Besides, holding on to negativity from the past only holds me back from becoming who I am capable of being in the world.
So, as I let go of my grandmother, I let go of those parts of myself that I no longer need. I let go of a piece of my childhood and open myself up to whatever comes next. The process is painful sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Pain is often the best tool for evolution, and it reminds me of what is truly important in life. I wish that kind of clarity and growth for all of us as we approach the New Year. Perhaps it's time for a new conversation...