Brody: Reflecting on life’s lessons

I want to ask a serious question. Think about it before you answer.

Imagine you die. After you die, what would your dying self tell your present living self? Do you think you will know all of life’s answers when you die? If so what do you tell your living self?

As you age, what life lessons have you learned? I was hoping for some true wisdom to help us all.

Granted, the first man I approached said at age 90 he had learned aging is no fun as you watch your body fall apart.

Not to be discouraged, I asked our nurse who has been giving of himself for 30 years. He was sure of his life lesson: empathy. He said he always felt empathy for others, but as he aged, this godly quality has grown stronger. Also, he said he feels the need to live life the best way possible because life passes so quickly.

A 30-year-old told me age had taught her to respect and love herself more. She believes this will help her be a better nurse.

Add 20 years of aging and learning, and I got this answer. The lady said she has learned not to be judgmental and she also said she learned another lesson her Grandpa taught her which was to always take care of your mother and smiling, she added, she always will.

Our executive director answered with something that probably explains why she is successful at leading this facility. She immediately responded, “I have learned not to sweat the small stuff.” She followed with, “If you ask someone a question stay and listen for their answer.”

An 84-year-old said age taught him tolerance, not to be so quick to judge. Also, he, who struggles physically, has learned the importance of good health and how he can participate in his health.

A 70-year-old said she had always been timid and never could speak up as to how she felt or what she believed. She said at one time her dad bought her some tennis shoes while she was in junior high school. There was a girl in that school who wanted those shoes so when this gal showered after gym class, she wore these shoes in the shower so the other gal wouldn’t take them. She thinks that was the spark that taught her to trust herself and take care of her own problems.

Another lady, though, told me she didn’t learn a thing she didn’t already know, but then added she had learned the importance of other people in her life.

One of our dining room servers said her grandma taught her the importance of patience. She said it took her 30 years to understand the importance of being patient with other people and herself.

Others talked about learning how much people need each other, as we age especially. When we’re young, we need guidance and care from others. In our 20s and 30s, we’re usually too busy to think about life lessons. As we age, we begin to see the truth.

One 96-year-old said she hoped to learn how to die before it’s time to die. Another man said he learned to take a positive attitude about life and then share that attitude with everyone he meets.

A man who cares for his wife so sweetly said, as we age, we become more aware of our destiny. As we age friends and family pass on you have to look at your own beliefs, and for me, I know my God, and I am at peace.

Then I went from him to ask a 5-year-old what she had learned as she grew. She looked at me and said, “I know that God is the boss.” I’d say she had already started learning life lessons.

As you know, I am 87. The life lessons are these. I’ve learned the importance of exercise. As we age, our body gets harder to move but if we don’t, someday, we can’t.

It is essential to keep our brain active. I’ve learned I want to think and read and write as long as possible, not only for myself, but it allows me to give more to more people.

The third life lesson is humility. I’ve had an exciting, unorthodox and successful life and career. So what. The older I get I seek ways to give of myself.

So, when you die what do you want to tell your living self?

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.