Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I’m not Scared of Dyin’……


I'm not scared of dying and I don't really care
If it's peace you find in dying, well then, let the time be near
If it's peace you find in dying, well then dying time is near
Just bundle up my coffin, 'cause it's cold way down there
I hear that it's cold way down there, yeah crazy cold, way down there
And when I die, and when I'm gone
There'll be, one child born
In this world to carry on, to carry on

My troubles are many there as deep as a well
I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell
Swear there ain't no heaven and I'll pray there ain't no hell
But I'll never know by livin' only my dyin' will tell
Yes only my dyin' will tell, oh yeah, only my dyin' will tell

And when I die, and when I'm gone
There'll be, one child born
In this world to carry on, to carry on…. (Song by Laura Nyro (thanks Rhea!) Performed by Blood Sweat & Tears)


I was riveted on this NYT article. These nuns have surely found a way to die in peace, at home, without the intervention of extraordinary measures to keep them alive while amongst life long friends.

The severe ravages and mental deterioration due to Alzheimers and other elder-type diseases have not affected these nuns and priests. Many are engaged with creative and intellectual pursuits. Most have been well-educated with a rich inner life and have friendships in community going back seventy years in some cases.

I was reminded of the Time article of many years ago – 2001 – (I just found it, thank you Google! )


The nuns volunteered to take part in what has now become known as the ‘Nun Study’ where tests are regularly conducted and assessments of mental agility and ability are tracked.


Take this:
One is Sister Esther Boor, who at 106 speeds through the labyrinth of halls with a royal blue walker, glazes ceramic nativity scenes for the gift shop and pedals an exercise bike every day, her black veil flapping, an orange towel draped over her legs for modesty.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm 150, but I just made up my mind I'm not going to give up," said Sister Esther, who gives her exercise therapists yellow notes with phrases from books she reads. "Think no evil, do no evil, hear no evil," she wrote recently, "and you will never write a best-selling novel."


The bottom line, I believe, is living with passion and curiosity. Daily reading, writing, knitting, walking, etc., seem to be the common element in a positive quality of life extension as we age. And community.

And: oh yes, compassion, kindness and patience with others. I really need to work on those.

21 comments:

  1. Yep! We need to keep very active, mentally, and as physically fit and active as poss.
    As Bette Davis said
    "Old age is no place for sissies". (Her quotes are in demand today -you left one for me, too!) :-)

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  2. Use it or loose it!

    My sister was 60 today.

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  3. A beautiful article as always! I admire your love of life...

    I also need to work on patience with others....

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  4. I forgot that quote T, it is the very best, I do so love the great Bette!
    XO
    WWW

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  5. Gail:
    Congrats to your sister, isn't it lovely being on this side of the flowers?
    I've lost far too many friends at comparitively young ages.
    XO
    WWW

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  6. Nevin:
    Thank you!
    Isn't there always something to work on though? It sure keeps us on our toes....;^)
    XO
    WWW

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  7. There's a huge variation among oldies in terms of our physical and mental health and enjoyment of life. I'm sure it's true that if you keep your passion and curiosity and sense of wonder you'll be much healthier than if you regard everything with a jaded cynicism.

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  8. I work on keeping my life as simple and uncomplicated as possible, because I'm faced with challenges no matter what I do. Surviving the challenges are my testing grounds to my possible longer lived life, because with each victory, I add a year to my life on this earth, or so I figure. It's a formula I made up myself and I'm trying very hard to make it work. Tranquility is the main ingredient, though. It is at the heart of the matter. I want to be a Buddhist monk in my soul, which is very similar to being a nun, I guess.

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  9. I read that NYT article too and it almost made me want to get me to a nunnery! Sigh, what we need is a nice secular community growing old together (and supporting each other in practicing compassion and patience!). Those nuns are indeed fortunate in having the support systems in place to choose their own form of growing old and dying, unlike most of us who end up at the mercy of busy family and impersonal institutions.

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  10. Nick:
    yes we have to keep that jaded cynicism at bay. At times it is a struggle for me, especially lately when people are dying on me.
    Stiff upper and all that, sometimes those old British Colonels had it right.
    XO
    WWW

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  11. Irene:
    I so agree. The simpler life is, the better off we are. Possessions take possession of us. I love your formula!
    XO
    WWW

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  12. Annie:
    Where I live there is a strong sense of community and we look out for each other but not intrusively.
    The secret is maintaining health and that is a crapshoot in my mind. I've seen healthy runners struck down with the Big C and other serious illnesses.
    never take anything for granted is my motto!
    XO
    WWW

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  13. I just wanted to mention that the song you quote was written by Laura Nyro. I just happened to write about her this week!

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  14. "Keep moving, learning, doing, all with a warm & loving heart. " per my Da, who is a chipper 86.

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  15. 'Keep moving, warm and an open mind' that is my mantra.

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  16. thanks for that Rhea, I've amended my accreditation with a H/T to you!
    XO
    WWW

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  17. Brighid:
    And a wise man he is. My father used to say if you keep running the disease won't catch up with ya!
    XO
    WWW

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  18. GM:
    Yes and I would add have people in at least once a month to keep you fresh!
    XO
    WWW

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  19. Maybe the real answer is no hubby or kids to deal with.
    Only joking!!

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  20. Deb:
    Oh there's a real kernel of truth in that my dear!
    XO
    WWW

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  21. Extraordinary - and I'll bet most of them actually live longer WITHOUT all the aggressive and toxic treatments which would be foisted upon them in a hospital automatically. And how much more empowerment and love they have, even withstanding the miserableness of having so many ailments.

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