Being Relevant

Being Relevant
Whether it is in our writing or our daily life, when we feel we are no longer relevant we lose our voice or will to live. I recently went with a friend to the nursing home to see a mutual friend. She looked good and was glad to see us but the first thing out of her mouth was; “I want to die.” For me this was difficult to hear, having lived in fear the last year that I’d lose my aunt to colon cancer and recently bid farewell to two awesome ladies, when I hear her say this and it makes me sad and it makes me angry. My response, smart-alack that I am, was, “Not me. I’m so nosy, I don’t want to miss a thing. I’m afraid I’ll die before I do everything I want to do. I don’t even want to go to sleep for fear I might miss something. I want to stay around and see what happens next.”
“But I’ve done everything I want to do. There’s nothing left for me. I’m just tired and want to die.” She was not on life support, she can walk and talk and eat without help, I couldn’t understand. Why would she want to just give up? She’s retired, her husband dead and she has refused to let her friends and family come around. She’s lost her relevance. She’s turned her focus inside and does not allow anyone else in. It has become all about her{ her needs and her wants, she cannot be bothered with other people.
I believe we are at our most productive when we are serving, helping and being a part of others. It is then that we are truly living.

An artist’s greatest reward is when someone appreciates their work. Whether it is a painting or a book, when that work is shared with others and they respond to it, then there is relevance. I am as yet unpublished and there are times when I’m going and doing and so busy I think I meet myself in the doorway. But my greatest joy is being a cheerleader for others. I’m not a great artist, that doesn’t stop me from plugging away but my greatest talent is being the comic relief. 
I call my mom every day, she is the only parent I have left and I want her to know how important she is to me. I call her sometimes three times a day and we often run out of things to say. It might be simply: okay, I survived today, did you? But sometimes I say something outrageous, like are you going to join the senior citizens’ wet tee shirt contest? My silliness makes her laugh and for one moment I am relevant. Of course I’m her only child and I’m important to her if to no one else but calling her, worrying about her, taking time with her also shows her, her relevance to me. 
I think we all need to be needed. I saw this theory proved true this year while my mom’s sister was dealing with cancer. My mom suffers osteoarthritis and she has found that she is not able to do everything she used to do but while her sister was undergoing treatments for cancer, mom was there, cooking, cleaning and cheering her on. She had a reason to get up in the morning and a reason to put one foot in front of the other even when she did not feel like it. 
My aunt, like myself has always lived a full life, busy with friends and things to do and places to go, so even on her sick bed she was in constant demand. People called and came by and even though she was exhausted from the chemo and radiation and surgery, she really didn’t stop…oh she slowed way down but she kept going. She kept finding a reason to get up and live. 
My parents have always blamed me on their sisters. Both my parents were quiet and kept to themselves. Dad was a little more outgoing, especially if it had anything to do with sports. But neither liked crowds or a lot of noise and I was like my Aunt Martha and my Aunt Kay. I love to talk, I love people, I enjoy hearing their stories and learning something new. Life to me is meant to be experienced loudly and with great celebration. I cannot imagine closing myself off to others and not finding something I can do to be a part of the living. 
My husband’s grandmother was housebound most of the time I knew her. She was on oxygen and had a lot of trouble breathing but she was still fighting and living life right up to the end. She would call at O-dark-hundred on your birthday and in her raspy voice, she’d sing happy birthday. She’d call friends and church members and neighbors who were sick or grieving and share a word or a joke or a tear. 
As a writer, I just want to entertain. To have someone read my stories and like them but if by chance, someone reads something I wrote and says, that touched my heart. Your words meant something to me, then I am relevant. 
Whether my job is to cheer-lead from the sidelines, be comic relief or hold your hand when you cry, being a friend, wife, mother and daughter means I am relevant and I’m going to do my best to be so to the very end. 
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