Friday, March 30, 2012

And Then, One Day......

There's an interesting theme going on over at Time Goes By this week.  Sparked by an op ed piece in the New York Times, the conversation is almost equally divided between those who think the old geezer should be allowed his aches and pains and those who are tired of hearing him and those like him whine.

Rain wrote about it, too.  She's always been a source of comfort and a nudge in the right direction when I needed it so I scurried on over to see what she thought.  No, 60 is not the new 30; it's different and that's fine.  Be positive but accept the reality; what else can one do?  She says it eloquently and thoughtfully; click through and read her for yourself.  I agree with it all.

I went back through some old posts on G'ma, and I found this.  I wrote it after I told her that I, her eldest and most durable child, had intersected with bullets. 
Can you see why I am going to school on being an old old person from my mother? No guilt. No over-wrought screaming. No anger. Nothing but acceptance and love and laughter. She doesn't dwell on what she's lost. She enjoys what she has. She's funny and interested and not furious at what is missing. She exists in the here and now, and makes it a better place for those in her aura. There is much to be learned from her, and I'm soaking it in like a sponge.
The notion of accepting myself for who I am while wondering who I am and how I got here is one I've been stuck on since getting shot.  Now that I stop and think about it, the sudden onset of my introspection is probably not all that different from the moment that G'ma noticed that she didn't remember much any more.  It was just there one day.

I'm reading Jane Gross's memoir/handbook of caring for her aging mother, A Bitter-Sweet Season.  In the first 39 pages I've stopped a dozen times, struck by the fact that I had been there, done that, wondered that, too.  As she says
...middle-aged daughters do this all the time.  I never noticed until I became one of them.
That's it, exactly.  On either side of the equation, the sagging skin, the creaky joints, the slowing down, the dependent parent..... they are all part of our every day until they become all of our every day. And you don't notice it until it's upon you.   

When did I get this old? Daddooooo used to ask.  That's the question at the center of it all.  If I knew when, perhaps I could have done something to avert the inevitable.  If I'd seen it coming, perhaps I could have changed.  If.... if.... if if's were skiffs we'd have a navy. 

If I've learned nothing else over these last 15 months, I've become certain that perhaps and if only are the least useful words in my vocabulary.  Seret 's mantra - It is what it is.  Smile, and move on. -  is the shorthand version of my answer to myself when my brain decides to wander down the well-worn paths of second guessing myself. 

Putting the smile on my face makes an immediate difference.  It's a proven fact.  Once I've turned my frown upside down I find a fork in the road, one leading to a better place, one reminding me that I Am and that is a good thing, even if I am lumbering more than I'd like, if I'm developing jowls, if my mother doesn't remember my name.  Everyone else has a similar issue, or they will soon enough.  There's no reason to burden others, or myself, for that matter, with the tsorris (an exceptionally useful Yiddish word meaning troubles). 


  1. Oh my, these thoughts of aging and being my mother have been invading the space in my head lately since my mothr turned 83 and I was looking at photos...I AM beocming my mother as well as my Grandma...I see it in the photos and wondering what all that means.
    I send you goo thoughts!

  2. I have an entrenched need (survival advantage or disadvantage?) to understand what's happening when one of those sudden moments create havoc with my body. What exactly is this new sensation, this ache, this dis-ability? What causes it and is there something I should do about it? It's not until after I've answered those questions as thoroughly as possible and done all that I could that I'm able to accept whatever I'm left with.

    While I'm working on my questions, the subject has fascination for me. I want to hear what other elders are experiencing: Is this common? You have it, too? Was it diagnosed quickly or did it take you forever to find out what it was? Is your treatment successful? I have to choose my confidants carefully; not everyone finds the experience of aging as intriguing as I do.

    There's complaining and whining and, then, there's puzzling, seeking answers, sharing information. I would never want to be censured for the latter.

    Is 64 too old for medical school?

  3. Thank you and I think you have been an inspiration to many in how you handled what happened to you. You lived it as fully as I can imagine anyone doing. Not denying but not giving up. It was like you got a crash course in what comes with aging if one lives long enough. A lot of times I don't think about it as a factor in my life but when I slow down to assess, there it is. And it is what it is which won't be exactly the same for any of us.

    My mother-in-law sounds like your mother. She lived it as it was and with a good nature in her old years. She had between 5 and 10% kidney function which meant often her mind wasn't there as it had been, but she was aware of it, and her good nature helped her get more sympathetic care from the aides in her assisted living home. They spoke of how it made their work easier to my husband. I don't know what makes some go through those elder years so placidly and others go screaming and denying. Is it something we have control over or part of the genetics?

  4. Nance, I'm with you about gathering facts. But I get nervous when I ask others..... what if their experience isn't just like mine? I'm trusting my gut more than ever these days.

    Rain, I think resiliency is something we are born with. I do think that attitude can change. G'ma is just like your mom... the aides love her so she gets great care. She's funny and able to laugh at herself. I hope I get there, too.


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