I want to be that old woman.

Bleeding heart

Bleeding hearts

I am reading a book these gray December afternoons, breathing in toward the poetic words and out toward my own life’s reflections.  It’s called  Wild Comfort:  The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore.

It may not be allowed to share this paragraph with you due to copyright restraints, but I shall do so anyway until someone shakes their finger with a warning frown.  Perhaps, instead, you will scurry to your nearest book shop and purchase this book of nature essays yourself and read as 2017 births into new possibilities.

She writes:  The door to the woodstove squealed as Frank reached in to stir the fire.  I backed my soreness against its warmth.  I felt like an old woman, which would have been all right, except I was the wrong old woman.  When the time comes, I want to be the woman Hank wrote about.  She was a regular old plaid-jacketed Alaskan until she began losing her capacities.  She lost the ability to balance.  She lost access to her memories.  Her hair fell out.  One by one, the capacities we think are essential dropped away, until she was stripped of all conscious thought and intention, leaving only the transparency of her inner mind.  But what she had stored there, though all a lifetime, was radiant.  Hank says that when they sat together, watching rain roll down the window, what ballooned from her was glass-clear gladness.  That’s what she had left.  That’s what she had become.

Kathleen then writes:  How does a person do that?  This is what I need to know.



I don’t know, dear reader, if that’s what you want.  But that’s what I want.  So that when and if everything falls away–which someday it shall, perhaps with our dying breath–all that’s left is glass-clear gladness.  I wouldn’t even say gladness.  I would say shining awareness.  Pristine, compassionate, shining.  All-encompassing.  Radiant.

The world and our minds may try to rob us of that birthright of radiance, but it’s the essence of who we all are.  I do know that.  We can get so caught up and befuddled and confused in the ever-changing world that never ceases spinning something different.  But beneath it, our birthright exists.  The old woman knew that and when her mind left…the glass-clear gladness remained.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in December, 2016 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to I want to be that old woman.

  1. Stacy says:

    I wish I could tell you, Kathy, how to be that old woman. Maybe the key word is “old.” Somehow I don’t even think age explains it. If we’re lucky, we’ll still be around to see one day. ❤

  2. Clear-glass madness…perhaps it does come with age. At 72 perhaps I am getting closer. Thoughtful post. Haven’t seen one of your posts for a time but perhaps I have just missed them. Interesting book.

  3. bree1972 says:


  4. Shirley Khodja says:

    Me too, Kathy, I want to become that old woman. And I’m going to buy that book. Beautiful!

  5. Lucienne/Alluvja says:

    I have witnessed something like that in my mothers last years, she lived to be 102.
    I find it sort of hard to envision oneself that old, even when I rationally know it will come (if we’re lucky enough to stay alive) and even when we are becoming it.
    I don’t really know yet how I want to be old. What I do know is that our perspectives change.
    Twenty years ago I thought it would feel different than the way I feel about it now.
    I am old already through the eyes of my youth and somewhere between mourning and surrendering.
    Beautifully written food for pondering Kathy. Thank you dear, much love.

    • Kathy says:

      Lucienne, I am glad you enjoyed this! I think you make a very important point. Twenty years ago we might feel totally different than maybe we’ll even feel twenty years from now. I like what you say about being somewhere between mourning and surrendering. In any given moment that’s how I feel, too.

  6. dawnkinster says:

    It would be a blessing to turn into that woman when the time comes. I imagine some of that gladness must already exist within in order to shine through at the end.

  7. Barb says:

    I think we have to actively practice awareness, Kathy. Sometimes pulling away from the world’s befuddlement gives glimpses of true meaning and purpose. I’m already old and (gladly) getting older. I hope some shimmer of of the gladness I feel right now stays with me when all else is gone.

    • Kathy says:

      I am sure it will be there, Barb. But I agree with you about actively practicing awareness. Otherwise it’s too easy to get ensnared if the everyday challenges.

  8. Sadness felt through the golden rays of gladness. I am becoming more aware of life events as I sit in the hospital day and night. There is an ebb and flow in a hospital world as tears flow at a death, codes are called, and groans of pain are heard and finally silence as dawn approaches.

    • Kathy says:

      That would be such a challenge, Linda, to feel that radiance among the groans and tears and ebbing away of life. And I suppose there a moments of healing, too.

  9. lucindalines says:

    Thanks for the thoughts!! Great post, as always.

  10. I’m so excited that you’re reading Kathleen Dean Moore! (I’ve read three of her books and quoted her six times on my blog!) Her reflections often mirror my own… and then she offers other ideas that I’d never considered before…

    I’ve been with so many relatives of ours as they approach the end of their lives, some so bitter it’s difficult to be around them, others at peace and radiant. And some, somewhere in between, sort of philosophical about their disappointments and blessings. It always makes me wonder how they arrived at such varied places. But like you, I wish that my sense of awareness will stay with me no matter what is happening around me or inside my restless mind.

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, I have never heard of this author before, and am fascinated with her style of sharing her vulnerabilities and delights and challenges and awareness. How interesting that you’ve quoted her in your blog! Perhaps I’ve even read those quotes.

      Yes…so many varied ways of facing old age and death. I had an elderly friend who got dementia and spent many of her moments crying. I wonder if she was crying over lost dreams…

  11. Elisa says:

    To Be and to know that in every moment at any time Yay!

  12. Brenda says:

    Words are tumbling around in my head but nothing feels right to express here. All I can say is that this message hits close to home and honestly, I am not feeling radiant or glad. I have been struggling to stay above the depression that is pulling at me. And, I’ve been dealing with a nasty respiratory illness for the past month. Plus, it’s the holiday season which has now become a time of sadness for me.

    I apologize for the negativity. Every day is a struggle to find something positive and a reason for hope. I long for happy times, laughter with family and friends, and life events to look forward to.

    Kathy, your words always touch me and give me a chance to see the world through another’s eyes. Thank you. I hope the holidays are bringing you a sense of comfort and joy. ❤

    • Kathy says:

      I hope you received your email from me and could find some comfort or different ways of looking at the world in it. I am so sorry for all your challenges and may grace arise and ease your tender heart.

      • Brenda says:

        Thank you, so much my dear friend ❤ I just finished writing a letter to you and it'll go in the mail tomorrow. ❤ ❤ ❤

  13. debyemm says:

    I’m with you – not “gladness” – but crystal clear reality awareness. No gunk.

  14. Debi VanDyke says:

    Thanks for sharing…

  15. Aw gee your post is profound and do you really want to be “that old woman?” So many things to consider but growing old and staying cognizant and productive is what matters. If I lose my mind I don’t wish to live

  16. Pingback: To learn how to sit in the scary woods of the mind | Lake Superior Spirit

  17. Debbie M. says:

    An acquaintance shared that her mother had Alzheimer’s and no longer was engaged with other people. However, she still remembered the words to old hymns. This person made the comment that the “heart was the last to go.” And yes, I would like a mind of gladness and a heart of singing to accompany me to my death.

  18. I feel a bit out of place leaving a comment here but I just found your blog and this image resonated with me. This passage conjures the notion of meeting the end of our days with a sense of completion, a peaceful serenity that follows a lifetime of muddy shoes, callused hands and maybe even ink-stained fingers.

    This reminds me that I still have plenty of work left to do. But, perhaps more importantly, we can see what we’re working towards.

    • Kathy says:

      Gabriel, I am so glad you left a comment even if you felt out of place. YES, that is a wonderful way of putting it: with our muddy shoes and all the challenges and mistakes and false starts and running on ahead. So nice that you resonated and that you took the time to add your thoughts. Warmly, Kathy

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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