I want to post the tribute I wrote for Ryan’s Grandma Rostek to be shared at her memorial.  But in stopping to write this out as a blogpost there’s so much more to say than just my tribute.  I loved this woman dearly.  Ryan’s grandparents were this huge gift to me.  I only had one Grandparent left when we were married and joining Ryan’s family gave me a whole new set of grandparents.

Elders, our elders are so important.  They need to be honored.  They need to be loved.  They need to be heard, because we need them.  We need their wisdom.  I read 2 Chronicles 10 a few days ago and it made me pause to remember that we need to listen to the counsel of older people who have gone before us!  In this passage King Rehoboam called for the counsel of the men, older men, who had given counsel to his Dad, King Solomon.  But then King Rehoboam also asked his peers for advice.  It was different advice and he chose to take the advice of his peers over the tried and wise advise of the older men.  It didn’t end well for him.  We need those older men and women to help advise us!!!!

Furthermore, I am deeply struck that the value of life is inherent in life itself.  I am beginning to uncover that most people are either not comfortable with or see little value in being present in the end of life.  I admit that this surprised me.  I’ve never been uncomfortable with being around very elderly, demented or end of life people.  My mom had me volunteering in nursing homes starting in my preteen years, my own grandmother (Elias) developed dementia not much later and in fact I was present when she passed away years later, my Grandpa (Krahn) a few years later, also developed dementia. This probably had a key role in shaping my perception that life has value, just because it’s life.

Last month we visited Grandma Rostek.  The decline in her well-being and quality of life from the year prior was huge.  Here was Grandma at 96 with a healing broken leg, pretty well near deaf, overcome with dementia, and a simply labored existence.  But this 15 minute visit was strikingly beautiful and valuable for both her and myself.  After we left I am sure that she didn’t remember we had been there; but for those minutes we held her hands she knew on some level that she was not alone.  She knew that she was loved. She knew that she continued to be treasured. This in and of itself was beautiful.  Life in and of itself is beautiful.

I admit that having to stare death in the face with my stage 4 brain cancer diagnosis, alongside my realization that few people feel comfortable in the domain of end of life, has prompted a survey of my own support network to ensure I have adequate support in the worst case scenario.  I am at peace knowing I do indeed have the supports I need.

I also am realizing that my love for the elderly is indeed a special gift.  I am so thankful for it.  And in transparency I share that this week I have petitioned God for my life and for longevity so that I may be there for my parents and parents-in-law as they press in closer to 70 and for the years beyond which likely begin the shift from being the helper to being the helped.

Today, I toast my elders with a whole new appreciation.  At the same time, I ask you to survey the value of life in and of itself.