“The secret to a long life I believe,” said Lillian, “you have to eat pinto beans every day!” Lillian had reached her 103rd birthday and she was like a walking history book. It is amazing to think about all she must have seen in her lifetime. During her childhood only 14% of the homes in America had bath tubs.(they were not one of the lucky ones) In her day, the average worker made a whopping $200 - $400 per year. More than 95% of all births took place at home. Pneumonia, Influenza, Tuberculosis and Diarrhea were the top killers of the time. There was NO iced tea, canned beer or crossword puzzles. (What?) Mother’s Day and Father’s Day did not exist either. A person’s life expectancy was about 47 years old…crazy to think about today huh?!
Lillian’s family at her memorial service was at peace with Lillian’s passing. “It was a blessing”, they said with a smile, “she lived a long life”. They wondered if that was a terrible thing to say, since she died and all. But Lillian had developed dementia over the past few years and was not aware of her family, their names, or even her name for that matter.
The family sat together with her in her final moments. The room was quiet, it was late, they watched her breath become shallower, farther apart and then finally…nothing. At that moment as Lillian passed…it was like her face transformed before their very eyes. The lines in her forehead and around her eyes softened which made her look younger. But the thing that was most precious about Lillian separating from her body…was her smile. Her death was beautiful. She was obviously happy to go.
Who she saw…what she saw…where she was…doesn’t matter. Lillian was finished here. The family experienced a side of death that we don’t often think about. There was this look of peace that passes all understanding. There are a lot of people who die every day that aren’t tragic horrible experiences. Like people who have endured extended illnesses for example, and have suffered throughout the illness with their family suffering right along with them. The end (death) is a relief…for everyone. It’s not a bad thing…at all.
Be happy and celebrate your time.