When my son Patrick was 3-years-old, we started visiting Smith Village, a senior living facility on south Western Avenue. We typically passed out lollipops and Hershey Kisses to the residents and just said hello. We became good friends with two residents, Betty and Helen, and gradually our visits to Smith Village became more centered on spending time with them.
Betty and Helen were our friends during both of my children’s young life and I grew to love going to Smith Village and seeing them. It slowed me down and connected me to the evolution of life and how it changes. According to Patrick, Betty and Helen taught him that some of the oldest people are also some of the kindest.
The truth is that life got busy and during the past two years we didn’t visit as much and each time I drove by I thought about them.
The last time we saw Helen, she had just found out she had cancer. Sadly, she died a couple months later and we never had a chance to say good-bye.
Recently, Patrick and I went to visit Betty to watch the Olympics with her and when we peeked in the first floor dining hall to wheel her out she was nowhere to be found. We asked the aide where she was and the aide responded that she wasn’t on this floor. Patrick and I looked at each other with tears welling in our eyes—we knew.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “but Betty died a few weeks ago.” The tears that were welling in our eyes streamed down our cheeks.
Betty died the day after her 97th birthday. She had a strong spirit about her and there was a part of me that honestly thought she would live forever.
This morning as I write with an achy heart, it brings so many life lessons to the forefront.
I got busy, too busy, to visit someone that I cared about and appreciated. There were times that my busyness could have waited; yet I so easily got caught in the cycle that never ends.
Some of my tears are for myself. It’s the end of an era. The end of Patrick and I visiting our dear friend Betty and her reminding us of just how much he’s grown up. Our visits to Smith Village were a meaningful chapter in my life and with Betty’s passing it’s time to turn the page.
I believe that special markers are placed by a higher power that invites us to pause and reflect.
The last time we saw Betty was in December. We brought her Cracker Jack, her favorite, and Patrick wheeled her around Smith Village.
What do Betty and Helen have to do with yoga? They are simple reminders of how important it is to pause from time-to-time and reflect on who and what is most important in life.