Friday, November 06, 2020

Getting Old

... isn't for the weak, as my mother used to say.

Nor are long, intimate blog posts. I'm sorry for the length of this one. I hope it's worthwhile to you. I wrote it to describe failures in my personal thought processes. This is about love, it's not another Cassandrafest.

As I near full retirement, I keep wondering what I'm going to do with my life. I'll have time to delve into a new career. My father retired from the Air Force, built a house, most of it with his bare hands, and then became an artist. Our home is full of his paintings. When I retire, I'll be a bit older than he was, but I'll still have time to explore new things.

More important than a second vocation is my true vocation. What is it that God is calling me to do with my time? Up until recently, that's really troubled me. In my career, I've always tried to accomplish big things and sometimes I succeeded. Sometimes I got fired. Sometimes I succeeded and then I got fired. It was all good fun. 

I tried to fit serving God in my retirement into that model. I was going to something really big for Him. Writing, lecturing, pestering people on the street, I was going to change things. I kept using that as my template for my planned service and I kept coming up dry. Oh, I've got book and lecture ideas a-plenty and I could see myself weaseling my way into one of those Catholic evangelism companies, but it didn't feel right.

I was never a big one for miracles or angels or even the Holy Spirit. The whole mysticism part of the faith was difficult to the point of being balderdash for me. Then I experienced a miracle and it changed everything. Since then, I've experienced one more. I promise I will share them here some time soon.

What I discovered from those two miracles was that they made me feel a certain way. That's what was missing from my plans to be Mr. Super Important Catholic when I retired. My plans were logical, but they weren't True.

Driving through one of San Diego's druggy haunts last week, I saw a woman drawing something in the gutter with a stick. I was stopped at a light directly across from her, so I had a chance to watch her. She drew for a bit, then she groomed the stick, removing some peeling bark, then she talked to the stick or perhaps just into the air. She was clearly blasted out of her mind.

I've had family members blow their brains out with drugs. I've watched it up close. I have Catholic friends who serve the addict community and I wondered if that's what I should do, but it didn't feel right. I have other Catholic friends who visit people in prison. I've felt guilty that I wasn't doing it with them, but it didn't feel right, either.

The incident with the addicted woman made me realize what my calling was. I knew what did make me feel deep emotions. I want to spend time with lonely, old people. 

I devoted a large part of my life to making my parents feel loved. My siblings were 1960s radicals with all of the ignorant, hateful, judgmental selfishness that went along with that. I guess that's why I blog the way I do here. Anyway, I was the one who loved the folks. As they got older, their emotional needs became greater as their other faculties faded. They were a pain in the neck sometimes, but loving them was its own reward.

After my father died, my mother fell and broke her neck. She spent time in ICU and then time recovering in a nursing home. We visited every day. There were folks there who had no one to visit them at all. They moved my heart in a way that the addicts and the prisoners have not. That's what God is calling me to do.

Visiting the lonely elderly meets exactly zero criteria of my plans to be a bigshot, Catholic bloviator. It's all about giving love to single individuals, people who won't influence a thing. They'll have no followers on Twitter, no connections for speaking opportunities, no chances to parlay their relationships into future growth. Loving them will be as small an act as it is possible to imagine, but there you have it.

Just like I know I experienced miracles, I know this is what I am called to do in the future.

Hmm. I wonder if I can find a lonely, old literary agent and kill two birds with one ... NO! Stop it, you idiot! ;-)

Love you guys. Hope you have a great day.

Totally unrelated to the post, here's a big, fat, Nankeen boll. I love how they're so soft and fuzzy. They're like rabbit fur. This was the last of two bolls on my final Nankeen. I plucked it and then pulled the plant. I'm down to my last three cotton plants now, hoping the cayenne will take advantage of the lebensraum to produce more fruit.


tim eisele said...

Back when my mother-in-law was in the nursing home, we went to visit her every day, and also made friends with a lot of the other people there. Our daughters chatted with everyone, played games, gave impromptu violin concerts, and periodically brought pets (dog, guinea pig, occasionally a chicken) to visit. They were all very pleased to see us. Going to see people in nursing homes is definitely something they will appreciate.

WC Varones said...

Well done and congratulations on your impending retirement!

I've been wrestling with the same stuff. I think mine is going to be serving the poor.

K T Cat said...

Thanks, all.

IlĂ­on said...

It sounds like a Calling!

(Just be sure to *always* talk to the people you visit as adults, not as toddlers or pets.)

When I was in college, the church group I was in regularly visited the captives (*) in a couple of nursing homes. The last time I went, I *had* to walk out (and walk back to campus), because the way to girl I was paired with was *talking* to the olde folkes both broke my heart and disgusted me.

Though, I never did explain to the campus minister why I'd left. I mean, *how* does one "wash the stink off oneself" without making an even bigger stink for someone else?

(*) After seeing, in my late job, how poorly so many of them are cared for,
'captives' is exactly what I mean.