Living for the moment

Mason’s favorite thing right now is to gift presents. When he plays make-believe, he finds old gift bags and tissue paper around the house and stuffs them with his toys. He hosts a pretend birthday party for one of his stuffed animals or one of his Cars 3 figures, and gasps in amazement as he “helps” them open the gift bag.

On Christmas morning he came down the stairs to see that Santa had left a bunch of wrapped presents for him under the tree, and the first thing he wanted to do was give his dad the present we had wrapped together the day before.

So when I told him we were going to visit Great Nana down in Massachusetts for Mother’s Day, he got really excited about putting a gift together for her.

But then I got a call the day before Mother’s Day. My Nana had fallen at home, and she was now in the hospital.

Thankfully Nana didn’t break anything. And I went by myself to visit her on Mother’s Day. Frail, in pain, and scared, she didn’t look well. Nana is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. So on top of the physical distress, there is an added layer of confusion.

“What is this place?”

“Where is my husband?”

“Why am I so sore?”

Knowing a visit from her only great grandchild would lift her spirits, I took Mason down to the rehab center yesterday.

What I witnessed was a child’s pure joy to see a family member and present her with something special he had helped create with love.

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And on the other side of that gift bag was my Nana who noticed every little thing about him. How blue his eyes are. How tall he has gotten (because she still remembers him being small). How he knows what he wants (a longer, “flat” hairstyle). How he likes to figure out how things work (noticing the remote controls both the hospital bed and the TV). How he missed 27 when counting to 30.

Here’s this young person just starting his life, and this strong woman nearing the end of hers, and during our whole 3-hour visit, each of them were only focused on keeping each other company. Nothing else. Neither were thinking about the past or their uncertain futures. I’ve never seen two souls live together in the moment as much as I did on this day.

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So what happens in the middle? Why do we, somewhere between the ages of 4 and 85, decide that we need to live anywhere other than the present? Why do we let worry, stress, and regret take control? Why does anything else need to matter if we're able to share precious moments with people we love? What's truly important in life is the connection I saw between these two yesterday.

Next time we go to visit Nana, she will have forgotten our last visit. So she will notice his eyes, and his height, and his engineer’s mind all over again, as if for the first time. And it will be beautiful.

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Are you good at living in the moment? Let me hear about it in the comments below.