I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.
Frank Ostaseski wrote one of my favorite books, The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, which is invigorating, inspiring and enlightening.
A few months ago, Frank had a stroke. His wife, Vanda, has become his caregiver.
Vanda posts online regularly at CaringBridge. Below is an excerpt from her post a few weeks ago:
Looking back on this most trying of weeks, many memories compete for significance. There is one I want to share here because it speaks of humanity, synchronicity, and the wry reassuring humor of the Cosmic Operators. And it speaks of true legacy, not the kind with trumpets and fanfare, but the quiet kind, that touches person by person in invisible-to-them ways.
When Frank arrived at the ER in Terra Linda on Wednesday, he was cared for by a wonderful ER nurse. Doug was real, calm, and efficient. As Frank put it “he led with his humanity, not his badge.” Because of this, the hours we spent with him passed easily, the stress of the situation alleviated by his kind presence. As we left his care, Frank thanked him and acknowledged these qualities in him. Doug told us he had had an amazing mentor, an ER doctor who had changed the culture of the Terra Linda Emergency Room, and was on a mission to do the same across Kaiser’s many ERs. Doug said that previously in their ER, “if there was nothing we could do medically, we didn’t really know how to be with that situation or patient, even going so far as to be ‘busy elsewhere’ sometimes because it was just too distressing feeling that you couldn’t help.” His mentor, Scott, had taught them about compassionate presence, shown them ways of being that they could show up with, not just medical tools.
Unbeknownst to Doug, Scott had learned that from being with Frank and faculty at the year-long Metta Institute EOL Training. Doug had tears in his eyes when he realized he had just looked after his mentor’s mentor. And the circle of karma had bloomed once again. It quite took my breath away.
Bowing to The Mystery,
You can follow Frank Ostaseski’s unfolding story at CaringBridge.com.
Here’s another point about legacy, a bit closer to home. This is an event happening in our community, which is worthy of note even though not directly related to conscious aging. A friend of mine, Flint Taylor, recently wrote a book titled, The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago.
Flint will be at the Oak Park Public Library at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16. He will tell some of the true story about the over 30 years of brutalities engineered and directed by Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. This is an event important to people of all ages.
And finally, two quick questions:
1. Have you ever thought about doing some Yoga? If you are over 60, there’s a terrific Yoga program just for you at the Yoga Centre, 266 Lake St, Oak Park. Ask for William or Annie.
2. Do any of you remember Sunday Night Dinner? Rumor has it that it may be resurrecting itself.
n Marc Blesoff is a former Oak Park village trustee, co-founder of the Windmills softball organization, co-creator of Sunday Night Dinner, a retired criminal defense attorney, and a novice beekeeper. He currently facilitates Conscious Aging Workshops and Wise Aging Workshops in the Chicago area.