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Posts Tagged ‘aging’

I look at elderly people and I see their white hair, their bent backs, their limps, some of which are slight, others more distinguished. Often you can see the pain on their faces. They have lived full lives of which we can only imagine their stories.

Some people look at the elderly and feel a deep sense of compassion, perhaps even mustering up stories which the said person may or may not have lived. When I see the elderly, all I can think is, “I don’t want to live to be that old.”

I think this is sad and I feel guilty about it, yet it does not change. My great grandmother was 106 when she died. I remember her. I remember the special toilet that was assembled for her use. I remember that she could no longer see to do her precious embroidery. She could not boil water or even peel an orange. She couldn’t even make it to the restroom without assistance. I don’t want to be like this.

I had a very brief period in my life in which I was humbled enough to the extent that I was completely reliant on others. Like my great grandmother, I needed help just to make it into the restroom and to get on and off of the toilet. I could not bathe myself. Although I used a walker, I could not even manage it without assistance. I could not dress myself. If it involved my legs in any manner, no matter how slight, I was not able to do it. I was a self-sufficient, 36 year old single mother who lived in a town with some friends and absolutely no family. As was usual for my personality, when I realized that something was terribly wrong, rather than calling an ambulance as I should have, I drove myself to the hospital – the whole time trying to reach someone at work to let them know that I would not be in.

For three weeks, my parents moved in with me. They left their home, their friends, their jobs, to come and take care of my children and I. Once I was well enough that I could at least shower on my own (with the use of handicap contraptions), my mother returned to her job. My father stayed with me another three weeks and would have stayed longer, but I finally kicked him out.

I had to buy all new makeup for my new medicines caused problems with the old makeup. I had to buy a new car because I could no longer get in and out of my SUV. I had to buy new clothes to accommodate my ever swollen leg and the weight gain that would follow. It’s been over a year and I’m still in the recovery stages. I have permanent damage and will likely struggle for the rest of my life, but I can at least fool those who don’t know me into thinking all is well. In fact, I believe that most of my friends forget that there is anything wrong with me.

I take this relatively short period of time and remember with dread what it was like to rely fully on others and I am reminded again and again that I don’t want to live like that. My circumstances were temporary, but an elderly person only continues to get worse. I want to die while I’m still actually living. Is that really so horrible?

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We hadn’t even left yet when my mom handed me a print off of the map that we would be using to find the fabric store. It was from Mapquest.

Mom, this map is useless. It doesn’t show how to get to the street that we need.

That’s ok. I have been there before. I know how to get there.

Are you sure, Mom? We could take my car and I can use my GPS system.

No, we’ll be fine. Besides, this will be fun.

It was fun, for about the first hour of what should have been a 30 minute drive. It was fun, until I began to realize that not only did my mom have no idea where she was going, but that I, even though I was from out of town and did not know the area, I had a better sense of direction than she did, although she would not listen to me. It was fun, until she wanted to ask some gangster how to find the fabric shop. Ok, that in and of itself was hilarious, but trying to find a fabric store for 2 hours instead of the 30 minutes that it should have taken? Yeah, not so fun.

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Do you guys want to do something?

Sure. We can go to Ikea.

Well, I don’t want to walk around anywhere.

Ummm…so when you asked if we wanted to do something, what exactly did you have in mind, Mom?

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Sometimes life hands us things and we don’t know what to do with it. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? It sure seems like a good thing, but there are things that have you questioning it all. At least that’s how it works in my brain.

Life has made me cautious, very cautious. In many ways this is a good thing. I tend to be able to read people like a book. I can generally let you know if someone is worth getting to know before they have opened their mouth. I can read body language and facial expressions well and I’m usually dead on.  I’ve learned to listen to my instincts and to rely on them.

I seem to be on this new path lately. Life veered significantly off trail just over a year ago and I seem to finally be at a place where I can start living again. Too bad it has taken so long. It seems like a wasted year, but that’s not fair to myself nor fair to the lessons that I have surely learned and am yet to realize.

There is much to be said about my life at the moment and so little that I actually want to say. Leann Rimes does a nice job of summing it up; Something’s Gotta Give.

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Me – Have you ever noticed all of the dating advertisements on the side of Facebook? C, we have a match for you!

Daughter – Yeah, it’s really annoying.

Son to me – I don’t know why anyone would want to date you.

Umm, thanks son!!!

“That’s not what I meant. I just mean, well people are old. Why would old people date?”

So not helping here.

Son, you have the talent of most men. You say what you mean, it comes out wrong. You try to explain yourself. You make it worse. Congratulations!!  At 8 years old, you may have achieved manhood.

😉

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My mom and I were talking about a conversation that I had with another family member recently. “Wow,” she said, “You are pretty blunt these days.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Well, you two are close, you can be blunt with her.”

Except, I’m kind of blunt with everyone now a days. Usually I word things nicely, but sometimes, things just need to be said. 

Ah, aging. It brings out the best in us.

***Also, my links are still gone and I don’t know why. Do you know where they went and how to get them back? My “links” tab shows that all of my links are visible, but as you can clearly see, they are not.

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dutch-bros-pic

I stopped by the local Dutch Bros to pick up an Iced Milky Way. Soon, I fell into an easy conversation with the guy working the counter. He asked if I had any fun plans for the weekend and then explained that, as punishment for partying, he would be spending Saturday cleaning his girlfriend’s garage, although, it “was worth it.” I learned that he is a student at the local community college and although he doesn’t quite know what he wants to do, he is leaning towards psychology which is what really got our conversation flowing. I mentioned that one of the biggest injustices of our schools is that we no longer have counselors and the conversation went on and on from there. It was an excellent conversation. He was very knowledgeable about the school system and today’s children. I think it was the best conversation that I have had in weeks and bits of it continue to replay through my mind. 

The greatest impact that the whole conversation had on me? The fact that he “started school in 1992.” That means that I am nearly old enough to be his mother. How did this happen??? I know that I am older than these young coffee bistros, but come on, old enough to be their mother??? Somehow, the fact that I have a 15 year old daughter, the fact that I have lived life, the fact that I have continued to age has escaped me. In my mind, I’m still 30. I am an adult, but I am not an aging adult which leaves me to wonder, just how old do these young adults think I am? Am I simply another adult face in the crowd that judges teens with contempt? Am I someone’s mother? Just another customer? Have I, in my years of living, lost my identity and simply become just another face in the crowd?

The irony is, that in the last ten years, I have truly began to live my life and discover who I am. Is it possible that as I have blossomed, I have also, somehow, become just another face in the crowd?

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