Estate Law Center
Serving Clients Throughout Virginia
Call Today


The Most Courageous of All

By: Attorney Katherine S. Breckenridge, Esq.

Published August 7, 2014

Elder Law

“I have a friend who just turned eighty-eight and she just shared with me that she’s afraid of dying. I sit here years from her experience and try to bring her comfort . . . But what do I know?” (Lyrics from Sara Groves’, “What Do I Know”)

A full life, when measured by years, yet a life seemingly at the end of one’s last season here, still gives me cause to pause and acknowledge the courage – of reflection, of the present, and of looking forward.

In reflection, you may remember your childhood as a time spent reading books, exploring wooded paths, learning in exponential fashion, endless summer days, and the invincibility that accompanies youth. Perhaps your high school memories include playing in the band, summer camps, running cross-country, attending prom, and holding your first job. Then in college, your world expanded, giving you an understanding that maybe the universe does not center around you. Then somehow, without you realizing it, you were employed, married, and there were small children at your feet. Now, the little ones were boss – or so it seemed – their schedule was yours, and they grew from two years of age, when you were the apple of their eyes, to twenty-one and were quick to remind you of how much smarter they were than you.

Now in present day, you may ask, what happened to that time? Can’t one just blink like in the 1970s’ television show, “I Dream of Jeanie,” and recapture some of that time? How is it that the child of mine now considers someone else the center of his universe? Why is it that when I walk down the street, and say “hello” to someone from the younger generations, that “greeting” often falls on unreceptive ears? Have I become invisible to those in their teens, twenties, thirties . . .? How is it that my children refer to anyone above forty years of age as “old people?” (I think my head spun in disbelief when I first heard the reference, but they were serious.)

As groups in our society experience generational and time transitions, and enter their later season of life, and begin to have the courage to “look forward,” I encourage the rest of us to proclaim – ENOUGH to the permissibility of invisibility! It is time for a wakeup call within our homes, our communities, and our nation. I may be invisible to so many who will come after me, and I may not be the center of the universe the way in sixth grade, I dreamed I would one day be – surely nothing less than President . . . However, what I will do, what I encourage you to do, and what our community is ripe to do, is to be the voice for those who have paved the pathways for us. The younger generations should not miss the opportunity to seek the wisdom that goes before us.

There is an older adult community that should be the center of our universe. As an estate planning attorney, I have the absolute privilege to sit at the feet of many older adults. Some of those moments are so treasured that they are indescribable in words. However, if I had to choose one word to describe the older adults in our community, it would be COURAGEOUS!

While the younger generations are often focused on the struggles and triumphs respective of their stages in life, whether that means competing in sports, attending school, providing for one’s family, struggling with an illness, no other generation faces the imminent certainty of death, but those who are older adults.

The poignancy of this about swept me off of my feet – when the courage that a vast number in our community face became so clear. Barring any illness or accident, when you are young you may have the luxury of feeling invincible; but, when you reach a certain age, one knows it is only a matter of time. For many generations, time may seem like an illusive element, but in this case, not so illusive.

We know that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 NIV

As a community we will be so much more enriched when we singularly and together realize the season of preparation that is taking place right before our very eyes, recognize the courage in those who are most courageous, and seek the wisdom of those who have gone before us; letting them help us chart our course.