In April, I took a short trip to Beaumont, Texas to visit my Aunt Jo.  Last fall she moved from her home into an assisted living facility.  It was her decision, she chose the place, but it was a very difficult transition.  She experienced significant cognitive and physical decline and for a while it looked like she wouldn’t live much longer. Wonderfully, amazingly, by the time I was able to visit in April she was herself again.  She spends most of her time in a wheelchair now, needs oxygen, and tires easily. Yet, her personality is back, she knows who she is and has started making her presence known in her new home.John and Aunt Jo
Aunt Jo has been an avid and award winning gardener.  Already, in the courtyard of her facility, there is a new raised bed filled with tomatoes and peppers as well as pots of squash and cucumbers.  She spent years as a physical therapist and already knows the aches and pains of many of the staff and residents.  She has started regular games of Yahtzee.  She’s the candy fairy and she remembers names and personal details better than I do.  She’s making a life and is planning for a future in her new home rather than planning to die. It is a tremendous change and wonderful to see. We were out and about everyday, eating at her favorite restaurants, visiting her hold home and neighbors, seeing friends and having a wonderful time. I was more tired than she was when I headed home. She ran me ragged!
When I was younger, Aunt Jo would often tease me or argue with my career and life choices. (Never about being gay, to that she just said, “ok”) I was a bit worried before the trip that we would end up squabbling, but none of that happened.  I realized that a big part of it is that I’m not defensive about of my life anymore. I’ve been able to shed so much of the doubt and uncertainty I carried for so long. I like my life. I love my husband. I’m good.  Yes there are problems to be dealt with and lessons to be learned, but I no longer feel the need to be as reactive. I have changed for the better and and the relationship with my aunt reflects that change.
Aunt Joe asked me if I ever plan to retire and I told her my current plan is to die at a psychic fair half way through a dramatic prophecy.  She considered that an acceptable plan.