Milestones add purpose to our cycle of life

Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 06:47 PM.

Milestone number three: Both our eldest grandsons started kindergarten this past week. Their mothers’ cried as they boarded the buses for the first time. As their grandparents, we knowingly acknowledged the emotion having experienced it ourselves.

Our grandsons’ independence is on the rise — their tie to their mothers’ apron strings frayed irreparably just as it was for us when their mothers boarded their buses for the first time. “This is a good thing,” we tell our daughters, yet understanding their hesitation to let their “babies” go.

Milestone number four: My wife and I toured a “retirement village” — or “the end of the road” as my mother-in-law calls it — this past weekend. We are planning for an ordered end to our lives at the same time our parents’ lives are nearing their ends and our youngest child’s married life and our grandson’s independent (kindergarten) lives are just beginning.

This retirement village offers complete care from “independent” living (they take care of everything including changing a light bulb in your apartment — how really independent is that?) through what they call “memory care,” really truly the end of the road. Memory care is a nice way of saying, “dementia,” which is a play on the word “demented,” which is a play on the word, “crazy.”

Maybe we’re crazy for not putting off achieving this milestone. After all, retirement villages are not cheap. Then again, what planned, end-of-life, institutionalized elder care is?

However, we’d be worse off to not plan for our end-of-life lives, to let worry about (or hope against) dementia delay or negate our planning until it’s too late. Until we’re too demented to fully and knowingly participate in planning for possibly the biggest milestone of our lives: the end of them.

So it has been a big month of milestones, some better than others. But good or bad, each one adds order and purpose to our cycle of life. Though some are happy and others melancholy, I’m defined by all of my milestones just as each of us are defined by our own.

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