I wish I could say that I know the purpose of my being, the path I am meant to walk, but I don’t, and just when I think I have it all figured out, my life takes another turn that brings my purpose for being here to question, again.

I admire those who seem to know from a young age, why they are here, and what they are meant to do; the Nelson Mandela’s and Joan of Arc’s of the world knew early in life what their path was, and though they couldn’t have known how or where the path would end, they seemed to walk it with confidence. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that knowledge? Granted, we can’t all be meant to walk a path as grand as them, but their fame can’t be the purpose of their lives, rather it was a byproduct of their intended deed, a perk. It seems that we are destined to walk the path of life in order to understand its’ very purpose. (It’d be easier to just be born with the brain we die with)

When we are young we forge through life recklessly, with little regard to our long term purpose. We’re eager and curious, there’s so much to explore, and so much fun to be had. It’s only as we age that we start to reflect more on where we’re going, and why. We observe more, accept more, and challenge less, and the experiences of our lifetime start to make sense.

I have very fond memories that go back to my childhood, of a woman whom I adored. She was warm, loving and kind. She was my Godmother, and her path in life was long and hard. She was born in Latvia, an identical twin. Both girls married then immigrated to Canada. Each had just one child; the sister a son, my Godmother, a daughter, but this was where the similarities stopped.

Soon after they settled, she and my Godfather opened a dry cleaning business and it was then that trouble began. My Godfather was a young man when forced into German military. I can’t say what atrocities he witnessed, but it tortured his mind to his dying days and throughout his life his method of coping was through alcohol, lots of alcohol. Often in drunken stupors he would neglect to make his deliveries and friends of family would have to step in to help. My Godmother worked tirelessly to keep things afloat, just barely making ends meet. She ran the storefront, raised her daughter, and nursed her husband, never, ever saying a cross word about him. After 30 years, they closed the dry cleaning business. He got work in a factory, and she in a coffee shop – both were in their sixties and life seemed to be coming together but his random drinking binges continued.

She watched him closely, kept no liquor in the house, nothing to tempt him, She had to dispose of her perfumes and baking extracts because in desperate times he’d resort to drinking even those. This was alcoholism unlike anything I could’ve imagined and I understand from witnessing this, what addiction really is, and it’s frightening. In sober moments he was the kindest man and I should point out he never raised a hand to anyone; he was not a violent drunk, which is why it’s so sad, for all of them because my Godmother and their daughter lived in constant fear of the next binge.

One day, on the hunt for liquor, he consumed something in their laundry room that killed him (which tells you how desperate he was) and for his wife and daughter there was finally peace in their lives. My Godmother mourned her husbands’ passing deeply because despite the difficulties he’d caused, she understood his struggles and loved him despite them. The daughter married and my Godmother enjoyed a happy family life. Eventually she met and married a widower; a kind man who treated her like gold, took her dancing and to concerts. He took her to Latvia to visit her 96 year old mother whom she hadn’t seen since she left in her twenties, because there was never the money for travel. They entertained (she was an amazing cook) and for 10 years she had a happy home, for the first time in her life.

Then he died of cancer and she withdrew to the comfort of her daughter and son in law, eventually finding her peace in her remaining family. Then her daughter passed, suddenly of kidney failure and for the third time she mourned the loss of a loved one, but this was harder because her daughter had shared the hardships of her life and losing her was like losing a piece of herself. She was never quite the same after this loss. She was still stoic and loving and kind but there was a sadness that tugged at your heart strings.

Her son in law, the last remaining family (they’d had no children) was now retired and desperately missing his wife. Where both were now alone in their grief, he suggested she move into his home, and with her agreement set about renovating to build a small apartment for her. Two weeks before she was to move in he dropped dead of a heart attack – the last family she had was now gone, and again she grieved. She lived quietly for another 13 years, alone. She had put away all her photos because she couldn’t bear to look at all she’d lost, and when visiting with her we were lost for words because there was really nothing you could say or do to ease her sadness. She simply didn’t care anymore, and said as much.

She passed nine years ago, after a brief episode, at the age of 94, finally returning to her loved ones, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She was so strong, so loving, so kind, and so undeserving of the pain she endured throughout her lifetime. One can only marvel at the path she was meant to walk because she was meant to walk this tragic path, and she did so with grace and dignity, masking her pain with every step.

I truly believe that we all have a spiritual purpose in this world, a path we each are meant to walk, our lessons specifically designed to provide spiritual growth. The events that cause us joy, pain, even tragedy, are intended, and it is our mission to extract the life lesson from it that nurtures our spirit. My Godmothers path was clearly meant to house pain and suffering. My path to date has been uneventful by comparison but with age I’ve come to see those events I have experienced in a very different light. Everything I have witnessed, felt, endured, has enlightened my spiritual mind and I’ve learned to remain open to all new experiences, even the painful ones.

So while I’ve come to accept that my presence in this world isn’t meant to be on a grand scale (I will never be famous) my impact in this world is no less important – it’s just subtle. When I reach the end of my path I want to know that I put my time here to good use so rather than try to figure it all out now, I simply remain open to whatever comes my way, trusting in its’ source, and knowing it is meant to be.

The rest of your life.jpg

2 thoughts on “The path of life

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