The Art of Living

lipsticked leavesChange is the stuff of life, but transitioning is the art of life.            ~Karen Swallow Prior

lipsticked leaves

The other day I drove home from work and welcomed the season’s changes. Lipsticked leaves kissed the autumn sky. Trees flounced their blush like a woman flashes her new diamond.

This October contrasts from the one three years ago, when my mom received her cancer diagnosis. That year, we didn’t admire the foliage bloom around us. Instead, we dared the bloom of cancer to leave her.

She was forced to accept unwanted change–and lost more than just her hair and energy. Mom learned to accept a new normal. With the transition, she gained spiritual fortitude, and learned the art of living.

I remember those days when she rested in her recliner with a glass of flat ginger ale on the end table to her right. Her army of prescription anti-nausea meds stood on the TV tray to her left.

We chatted in between her dozing. One day, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday.

She wanted an NIV life application, thumb-indexed study bible. That’s my mom–she always knows what she wants!

Through the course of her chemo treatments, I watched her faith flourish while the treatments tried to kill parts of her. Almost daily, we talked on the phone. Sometimes I would start the conversation with a text–to be sure she was awake before making the call.

I typed, Are you awake? and waited.

I knew she was awake when I heard my Galaxy SII’s incoming message alert. I glanced at the message bubble, Yes.

My finger tapped on her name in my favorites menu. Sometimes, I’d hear Joyce Meyers’ Enjoying Everyday Life filling the background of our conversation.

When I visited, her new bible rested with its pages opened atop her sofa table as if its embracing arms were inviting a reader. She shared devotions she’d recently read, and initiated grace before meals.

This past August, she and I were on the phone chatting. She said, “We all live life forward, but understand it backwards.” Click To Tweet

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Many times we don’t understand things until years later. Like, why the cancer?“ She paused. “I know I’m here for a reason. The woman with a cancer called me back yesterday. I remember how I felt when I was diagnosed. I knew she’d call back, in time. We talked for over two hours.”

Over the course of this last year, my mom volunteered for the hospital women’s auxiliary, sent out encouraging cards, made quilts for raffles and reached out to other women with cancer diagnoses.

Mom continued. “She’s having a hard time. Today, I ordered a daily devotion book for her. I told her she had angels all around her, a whole team of angels. Everyone is in her life for a reason. She told me she hasn’t been very nice to her husband lately.”

I listened.

“I told her, ‘He’s scared, too. When you get off the phone, you go hug him. Tell him you love him.’”

“Mom, you’re amazing.”

“You think so?” she asked. Her voice cracked.

“Oh, I know so.”

I watch my mom live life forward–and to the fullest. She has glimpses when she understands why certain things happened the way they did–yes, even the cancer.

When I reflect over the past two years, I marvel over her transition. This fall’s vibrant colors remind me how my mom lives life full of color, like nature’s living art.

Fall leaves

lake in autumn

 

(Photos of lake by Tina Philbrick Richard. Used with Permission.)

6 Comments

  • Barbara Gilbert
    2 years ago

    Once again a heartfelt thank you for sharing. Your gift of words make your writing come to life, real life. It’s so true that our trials are given to us for a God-given reason. When we open our hearts God shows us what He wants us to learn, as your mother did. I love her quote, “We all live life forward, but understand it backwards.” God bless you both!

    • Sharon A Gibbs
      2 years ago

      Barbara, Very well said. I appreciate your words of encouragement.

  • Karen
    2 years ago

    she certainly is a wise woman, no wonder you are as well.

    • Sharon A Gibbs
      2 years ago

      Karen, Thanks. Writing uncovers such deep meanings to our stories and lives. I love the idea of the art of living… and will strive towards it. Oh, the beauty of becoming wiser!

  • Michelle
    10 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this story! Your website is beautiful, and your heart shines through each post! Keep on writing, Sharon! 🙂

    • Sharon A Gibbs
      10 months ago

      Thank you!

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