Sunday, July 29, 2012


Once while St. Francis of Asissi was hoeing his garden, he was asked, "What would you do if you were to suddenly learn that you were to die at sunset today?" He replied, "I would finish hoeing my garden."

That's a question that all of us pose to ourselves at some time or other. What would we do if we knew for certain that this would be our last day? I'm not sure I could be as faithful to my assigned task as St. Francis. I feel I would want to see my children and grandchildren, that somehow I would want to gather life to me. But that might not be possible. And even if it was, how sad that might make them. Perhaps it would be better to continue to hoe whatever garden was yours that day. 

The Shakers had a saying that I've used often in my Shaker novels. "Do your work as if you had a thousand years to live or as if you were to die tomorrow." They believed in doing their work as perfectly as possible but also as efficiently as possible. Then there's Isaac Asimov who when asked what he would do if he only had six months to live, responded "Type faster." 

Few of us are given a specific time to know when we are at the final sunset of our time. We think we will have a sunrise on the morrow. And most of us will. But not all of us. Accidents and tragedies steal young people before their time. Cancer is no respecter of age either, and we all know that terrible things can happen because people allow evil to overtake them. The Colorado shooting is grim evidence of that. 
My mother is 92, definitely in the sunset time of her life, but in her mind she's gone back to a younger time. It would be good if she could dwell in those memories and simply remember. But she thinks she needs to physically go back to that time, to see her mother and father, to fix her husband dinner, to see her sisters. Is it any wonder she sometimes looks at me and calls me her sister's name? I can't possibly be her daughter who is still just a baby somewhere needing to be cared for. One day when she was asking for Ann, I told her I was Ann. She said, "No, I mean the little Ann."

The little Ann is long gone, but maybe not for Mom. We try to be as kind as possible when we tell her we can't take her to see her mother or father. Often we try to not answer the question, but sometimes it can't be avoided. The trouble is that even after we tell her and she accepts it as true, five minutes later, she's asking to go see her mother again. It's hard to hear such sad news over and over and hard to have to deliver it too. We're going to try to take Mom home this week. It won't be the right home, the home she wants to go to, but we're hoping she'll be less sad.

It's an unavoidable truth that the sunset of time will come for all of us, but until then we'll just keep hoeing in our gardens. Or maybe type faster. 

For sure, the sunset of time up is coming for my Celebration giveaways. If you haven't thrown your name in the pot for the prizes of a Shaker music box, a basket and book or a beautiful pottery pitcher, you've got until midnight EST on Tuesday to go to my website and do that. I'll try to announce the winners on Wednesday if things aren't too crazy with Mom going home.

As always, thanks for reading.   


  1. Ann, as always I am inspired by your words on your Writers Journal. It is so true what you say about the sunset of time up, one can see it happening every day, as also in my family. Something that has become very important for me is to let my family know that I love them- I always end a phone call or a visit with "I Love You".
    I will pray that your mom will do better at the home you are taking her to. She is so blessed to have such a supportive and loving family, and may you all be given tremendous strength as you continue her care.

  2. Thanks, Janie. I'm hoping Mom will be a little happier when she gets to her house, but I'm not sure it will happen. I always appreciate your comments. Thanks so much.

  3. Ann, I, too, am inspired by the words on your blog. I find myself looking forward to those days I know you are scheduled to write something new! What a blessing to be able to care for your mom! Although I know the days can be somewhat taxing. My mom is 85 and each time I visit (spring & fall as I live in PA and she lives in Ark.) I notice changes. I am thankful she can still live alone and just wish we didn't live so far apart. I call her each morning to check on her and each evening. I have those I can call to check on her if needed. I treasure our time together as I too realize, we are not promised tomorrow. God's blessings to you & your precious mom....Linda McFarland P.S. Looking forward to the contest results!

    1. Your comment was so encouraging. Thank you, Linda. I know it must be difficult living so far away from your mother, but sometimes I think when you live that far apart, you make the times you are together even more special because you know they can't be every day. You sound like a very loving daughter and I know your mother appreciates you checking on her. It is a blessing to be able to keep one's health to continue to live on one's own because that's what most of us want.


Thanks for joining the conversation. I like hearing what you have to say. Thanks for dropping by.