I’ve thought a lot about elders over the last couple of years. Some of that has been my own eldering that I offer to others. Some guidance. Some grounding. Some questions to follow. Some witness. Some of that has been the eldering that I have received or sought out. For the same qualities of guidance, grounding, questions, witness.
One of my most clarifying moments with eldering was with my Mom five years ago. Mom is 79 years old now. So, she was 74 at the time. With my Mom there are many layers of relationship that aren’t always eldering.
There’s my Mom’s “oldering” (not eldering). These are those moments when we talk on the phone and she repeats herself. The brain gets that way. So does the psyche. My Mom and I are open enough to laugh out loud about it. A bit of teasing love.
A second layer of relationship with my Mom, not eldering, is “friending.” These are those moments when we are just playing together. Card games. Golf, which she still does with joy and the frustration and swearing that sometimes comes with a few flubbed shots. Again, we mostly laugh about this together.
A third layer is “parenting.” It’s sometimes connected to eldering, but I’m talking about the way that Mom will check on how I’m doing for money and if I need help. There is that inherent parent / child relationship no matter how old we get. There is reaching out to say hello with desire to not just share words but to share some heart. It’s quite sweet, which I now know with my children too.
And then, this layer of “eldering.” Five years ago, I was in some pretty troubled situation. It was very hard emotionally. There was no getting around it. There was no easy fix. There was much grief. It was then on a phone call with my Mom, though parenting and friending were in play, it was eldering that I needed. My Mom said something a bit out of character for her in our relationship, but it remains some of the best and important guidance that I have received. She said, “Stay true to yourself. This is not the end.”
It was beautiful. It was guidance and grounding that came from her lived wisdom and witness. It was simple. It was clear. It was from a place of knowing and from love. It was eldering. “Stay true to yourself. This is not the end.”
So, I’m grateful to my Mom, knowing that we continue to dance many layers of relationship. But when I try to hone in on the energy of eldering, this encounter with my Mom five years ago always bubbles to the top.
Here’s to the eldering that any of us offer and receive, that we are cultivating within and without.