Present Tense

On surrendering…

familyToday’s journal entry, after a challenging weekend with my 96 year old mother.

It is the winter solstice; the day that the dark begins to lose to the light. The day that we begin the rebirth.

Yet, it feels the opposite to me right now as my mom struggles.  But, I guess another way to look at it is that she will could begin to move toward the light, as it becomes brighter and brighter.  It will become more and more inviting and powerful.

I think her soul is ready to go, but she’s stuck.  Maybe the recent spate of falls are a catalyst to get her unstuck.  We all pray that she just goes to bed one night and never wakes up, which could still happen of course, but it seems as if that isn’t quite the way that she will exit.

My dad orchestrated the perfect death.  He died suddenly.  He died outside where he was happiest, in the back yard.  No worrying about his health or who would care for my mom.  No extended hospital stays or heroic measures.  Just a beautiful spring day and BAM!

My mom, who had more health challenges and hospitalizations than my dad over the years has held on to age 96.  Her soul is leaking out as her memories and cognition and grasp of reality leave her.  She is half in and half out and I can only believe that as she becomes more frail and unable to function, that light will draw her ever closer.

I was thinking about all of this as I had plenty of time to observe and feel out her situation over the past few days. I see very clearly now that my job is not to spiritually guide her to the other side, but rather, to allow HER guides to work as they will.  Someone recently explained to me a theory that we all have various ‘exit ramps’ that appear in our lives;  opportunities to leave this incarnation. We often manage to speed past them or maybe we put on our turn signal, but change our mind at the last moment and veer back into the living.

My mom has an exit ramp approaching and if I keep too tight of a grip and protect her too much, she will miss it.  She says she’s ready.  She often wonders why she’s still here.  She may have zoomed past some other ramps, thanks to various earthly interventions on her behalf.  Or maybe there were spiritual interventions on her behalf.  I’ll never know, but I do know that she’s passed a lot of exit ramps in 96 years.

This time, I feel as if we need to back off and let her take that ramp.  It’s time to stop the back seat driving and let her get off the freeway.

She’s been speaking of ‘going home’ for the past couple of months.  Yesterday, when I asked her where she was going, she said “I don’t know,’ she chuckled.  “Maybe hell, but I don’t think so.  I’ve tried to live a good life and make good decisions.  So, I don’t see how I would end up there”.

I told her that all of the people she loved are waiting for her in heaven and she replied, “I sure hope so”.

She keeps falling.  I’ve been there to see her fall several times and it’s wrenching for me to witness her frailty, fear and pain.  She has no control in her life.  Of anything. And I caught myself over-controlling her when I was there.  My motivation was to keep her safe and to avoid any pain.  But,I can’t alleviate her pain.

Someone takes her to the toilet. Someone fixes her meals. Someone dresses and undresses her and shows up to give her pills that she doesn’t want, 3 times a day.  Someone (me, usually) warns her of falling or hurting herself.  What’s left? She feels completely alone, even when others are with her.

She enjoys our visits, but all I seem to do is sound warnings, with an occasional pleasant conversation, always about the distant past.  That is where her comfort lies; the time in her life when she was vital and useful and strong.

So, it seems as if she is approaching that exit ramp and it’s time for us to back off and allow her to take it.  If that means she must continue to fall and yes, hurt herself, then that’s how it has to be.  Perhaps it’s the soul equivalent of jumping off a cliff.  We don’t get to decide how we go, even as we’re on the ramp toward The Divine.

She’s ready and we have to see that it’s time to let go of her and allow the process to unfold as it will.  We hate to see her physically hurting, but must consider that the psychic and emotional pain of remaining in her body is excruciating for her.


December 21, 2016 - Posted by | Musings


  1. So beautiful Jane, I love how you express yourself. I have parents in their late 80’s and they are ready to move on as well. I’m worried that when the time of death comes that they’ll be afraid and that’s what hurts me the most. I suspect that fear is just the way it is since we have an innate sense of survival. My Mom always says growing old isn’t for sissy’s she’s a wise old crone. I wish you and your Mom peace on this journey that we all must make but I do understand your need to want to hold on. Peace.

    Comment by Bonnie Binder | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  2. As is the norm, you have again captured the beauty in the fullness of life. Thank you for making your process so very public. You messaged the other day about your meditation leading you to “loosen your grip”, and it seems as if you have received the message loud and clear and are now given the opportunity to exercise your new found ability to do so. Peace to you dear Jane, and peace to your mother as she enters the ramp.

    Comment by Ken Hopping | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  3. Your Mother is lucky to have you. Such caring.

    Comment by Patricia | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  4. Amen.

    Comment by Mary Etherington | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  5. Not easy for anyone …. Here is a big hug from me.

    Comment by Big Mike | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  6. Such deep understanding, I know it was a painful journey for you to get to this point and I thank you for sharing with all of us. Hugs, love and light to you Jane. I miss hearing you every morning.

    Comment by Audi | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  7. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by msmonkeytoes | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  8. Thank you for your insight, Jane. I often feel like this with my Mother in law. I try so hard to shelter her from falls when she is in my home, and I often keep her from doing things she wants to do. Part of that is selfishness on my part as I want to avoid the chaos that ensues after a fall and the subsequent trip to the ER, but maybe I’m keeping her from what is bringing her joy in her moment. She still wants to help, and I make her sit instead as to avoid a potential fall. She is frail physically, but she still has spirit. Maybe it’s best that I not dampen her spirit regardless of the physical implications. It’s a tough line to walk. Peace be with you and all of us who have to walk this line.

    Comment by Kendra Nightingale Kaiser | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  9. This brings up so many memories, Jane. We are relatively the same age and I see this as a life cycle that we all must face. ‘How to be present for our parents when they transition from independent to dependent.’ Perhaps your mother is looking for the perfect summary to the final paragraph of the last chapter of her life’s work. We all get writer’s block. Those ‘cheating death’ moments are just erasure marks, and dried patches of correction fluid from re-writes and alternate endings. It is a beautiful thing that she gave you life, your first breath. Embrace this time of reflection as she welcomes you, to assist in dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of her final draft.

    My father had his first open heart surgery 44. I was only 15 at the time, my mother had passed just four months earlier. They were the generation of chain smokers. Dad recovered and lived another 32 years. Many rewrites later (10 bypass surgeries in all) after seeing the majority of his grandkids graduate college and the youngest, high school – he tapped out. It was three months after my sisters and I gathered to have the assisted living discussion. His closest friends, the one’s who feared he wouldn’t live to see the age of 50 or 60 had all passed before him. Depending on one’s outlook, a long life is either a blessing or a curse, but the final chapter is always the hardest to write.

    Perhaps, the off ramp your is looking for leads to the perfect storybook sunset, literally. Is she well enough for a road trip with you, wheel chair in tow? Allowing her to choose her own port of entry to that magical place where lost loves are waiting with open arms…

    Thank you for sharing this deeply personal story and allowing others to reflect and appreciate the journey of our own lives as well. You have a bright, healing Spirit, Jane. Peace to you and your family.

    Comment by Ted Lytle | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  10. I’m going through the same thing with my dad. It’s nice to be able to relate. I appreciate it. Thanks, Jane.

    By the way, I miss you on Facebook. For me, it became more toxic than uplifting so I bailed. Glad I still have your blog!

    Comment by Donna Noble Repp | December 21, 2016 | Reply

    • To clarify, you weren’t toxic; facebook was (as a whole). Didn’t mean to make it sound like it was you! 😉

      Comment by Donna Noble Repp | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  11. Jane, one again you illuminate the comfortableness of growing old, both for our parents and the position that we are in with them. Things we never thought about as they attended our graduation, performances or games. Now they hit us smack in the forehead, unable to dodge or deflect this passing of time, and degeneration of body and mind. I love the exit ramp analogy as I feel both my parents, and probably myself have passed at least one of those. I didn’t want to go but certainly put myself in a situation where I easily could have. Now we wait. We try to offer the only thing that helps which is our mere presence. So what happens and what do we do if WE don’t want to be looking out through cloudy eyes, with cloudy thinking at a daughter who is distraught at our own inability to function or keep ourselves safe. Isn’t that the thoughts you have? I know I do. My Dad and his friends used to kid one another when they were in their early 70’s by saying: “Man, if I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself”. Well, they took care and lived to be 80+. It’s just not fun anymore. Should we get to punch our ticket, or take our exit by our own free will instead of waiting? I think that is up for a discussion. Interested in your thoughts. T.

    Comment by Tim Lankerd | December 21, 2016 | Reply

    • Tim
      I donate money to an organization called Compassion and Choices. They work to pass ‘right to die’ laws around the country. I think that this will be the next big, social issue that we face, particularly as all of the baby boomers reach the age where they become unable to care for themselves. The huge emotional and financial burden will force us to confront the amount spent to just keep people breathing and not living.
      That national discussion is coming as more and more states pass ballot measures.

      Comment by janelondon | December 21, 2016 | Reply

  12. Jane,
    My heart is with you and your mom.
    Wirh peace,

    Comment by Rene Knippel | December 22, 2016 | Reply

  13. Hi Jane. I live in Denver and miss you so much. I continue to believe that you were the voice of reason on the radio show. Lol. I am so glad to have found your present tense. I love to write creatively as well and you are a beautiful writer.

    I am mostly retired but work on my own schedule as a spiritual counselor for all faiths. As that, I just want people to know what it is they believe in and to help them rely on that belief. My God has many many names.

    I have been saying prayers for your mom, just calling her Jane’s mom. If you want to give me her first name I can use that but I’m sure God knows who she is. Smile.

    I remember from the radio show when your dad passed away. I know how much love you have for your family. I am grateful for the picture because it seems like you are surrounded by them. Is Prince Charming in the picture? LOL. I have borrowed that phrase. I love it by the way.

    I hope you have a sweet Christmas regardless of ‘what seems to be. I promise you, God has this. AND, I can feel from here the big love you have for your mother. I’m sure she feels it too. Blessings, Suzann

    Comment by Suzann Thomas | December 24, 2016 | Reply

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