Monday, January 11, 2010

What Does Old Look Like?

Ronni Bennett is the proprietor of Time Goes By, a blog for people who aren't interested in organic baby food recipes any more. She wrote about her frustration with the cultural perception of aging. Youth preservation and ill health seem to cover it all. Where, she wonders, are the visuals of those of us who are aging without surgery, triathlons and a pre-occupation with our medical conditions. She got me thinking about G'ma.

My mother - known here as G'ma - sleeps in late, has her breakfast brought to her on a tray, reclines on her couch, ignores the activities available to her in the pod-castle she now calls home, and always has a smile on her face. When asked if she'd like some more excitement in her life her reply is always the same: "It's taken me 86 years to figure this out - leave me alone!"

It's that understanding of the way life is (walker and pills and all) and the acceptance of what is possible that is so striking to me about her behavior. This woman who never watched day-time television is now content to spend her days as a twice-baked-couch-potato, snuggled under her Horace Mann blanket (some gifts from grandchildren are just perfect) with her old friends from Law and Order to keep her company. It's not possible for her to follow the plot-line of the novels she used to enjoy, so she's found predictable and watchable television to take its place. She's not wallowing in her loss; she's found a way to make her life work for her.

Knowing that she is safe and secure (though I need to remind her of that from time to time) she revels in the things which interest her and ignores those which don't. And she's not that interested in her aches and pains, nor in listening to those of others. She watches and judges the world around her, and if that world is more circumscribed than it used to be, well..... that's just the way it is. Her life is more restricted, but I've never seen her as content as she is now.

Her pod-castle wants to use us in a tv ad; we've laughed that it will have to be filmed on her couch or in her bed. Yet she is the resident they choose to highlight. She is neither decrepit nor a gym rat. She's just old.

Perhaps the visuals are changing just a little, Ronni.

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