Listening to the news on my way to work this morning I was sad to hear that Nelson Mandela is now in critical condition. He will be 95 next month.
I am totally unqualified to comment on his extraordinary life and immeasurable contributions. But I can say that as I was thinking about him on my commute to work I heard his voice distinctly in my head. He said very clearly that “it was time to go.” Just that. Very calmly, unemotional; just a fact.
I have often wondered what goes through the minds of people at the end stages of life. Even healthy people of a certain age must wonder what lies ahead. I ponder whether people of this age are more prone to questioning their future. I wonder if they become eager to find out what’s next. I wonder if people are ready for that next adventure.
Maybe most people would rather stay here with friends and family and daily routine. But given the inevitable do some people look forward to leaving? I wonder. A few people I have known, people who have achieved great age, have told me they were ready to go. Others seemed less certain, more afraid. It’s all human nature I suppose. Still I wonder what people in their 90’s think about and whether it’s different from what people think about when they are in their 50’s.
And of course I wonder if I put Mr. Mandela’s voice into my head myself. I think the world is lucky to have had him at all. And I hope we honor him with peaceful respect when he chooses to leave us.