Yesterday afternoon I returned from a week in Nebraska. Most of that time was spent with my extremely elderly parents, who are hanging on by a thread. Still living in their own house, they are daily supported by my brother and his wife, and one of our neighbors who is a childhood friend. The intention of my visit was to spend time with my parents, and to give their supporters a bit of relief. The added bonus of this trip was my sister visiting at the same time. I feel grateful for each visit I have with them, never knowing when it will be our last time together. It’s also exhausting responding to the 24/7 cycle of repetitive comments and questions, exacerbated by diminished hearing and cognitive processing. There were tender moments, too, such as tucking my 98-year-old dad into bed for the night.
Being with them always brings my own mortality and aging process to the forefront of my mind. One thing that happens is when I talk to people I haven’t seen for awhile, I get the same questions about retirement, if I’m still working, and why I’m still working. It gives me the feeling that, at age 71, I should be kicking back, taking it easy, and doing things I enjoy instead of working. Truth is, I still deeply love the work I do here at the Seed. Being away, I appreciate the work even more, especially this week.
This morning I noticed my mailbox overflowing with cards, gift cards to Changing Hands, and LOTS of chocolate. I received a handmade booklet of messages from students and families expressing their appreciation for my presence at the Seed. On my desk was a gift bag containing two beautiful books, one called The Bonds We Share, full of 40 years of photos and descriptions of humans around the globe. I opened the book to an image of people performing early morning ceremonies along the Ganga River in Varanasi, India, a place I had visited and fell in love with four years ago. Inside was a lovely message from a family I’ve come to love and appreciate immensely this year. This outpouring of appreciation provided the answer to why I continue to work, when a vast majority of my age peers are winding down their careers.
Ultimately, when I helped co-found the school in 1977, I made a commitment to not only starting, but sustaining Awakening Seed. One aspect of making this happen is building a community of staff members who are also committed to educating the whole child, promoting planetary stewardship, and becoming co-conspirators for social justice. At this point, I believe my contribution to the Seed community is still needed and valued. I also believe that I’ll know when it’s time to go. Until then, I’ll keep at it, showing up for this place and the people who make this life worth living.