Respecting My Years

I am rapidly approaching that “elderly” birthday, the one that can no longer be kindly categorized as late middle age. For the most part, I don’t notice a difference, but there are some interesting dichotomies. My memory is slowing down, especially when it comes to short-term memory, and I am a bit slower in thought, but on the other hand, I think that I think better, if that makes sense. I’m also a bit slower physically, some of which is due to age and some to my perception of age, by which I mean that I am respectful of my years and try to make accommodations, even if they aren’t strictly necessary.

For example, I have no trouble shoveling my sidewalks, and yet I won’t go walking in the snow unless I must, and if I do have to, I make sure to wear non-skid hiking shoes and use my dual trekking poles. I also make sure to carry my single hiking pole whenever I am out in the dark or in any other possibly adverse condition, though to simply take a walk on a good weather day, I leave it behind. (People call it my cane, which I object to because a cane seems such an elderly thing to carry, but I suppose technically it is a cane since I’m using it in the city to help with my balance as I navigate broken sidewalks and bumpy streets.)

Now that my knees are doing better, I could probably climb stairs without too much trouble but I am very careful when I’m on stairs, walking up or down like a very old-elderly woman instead of a young elderly one.

Knowing how easy it is to trip, I try to be aware of what I am doing, even when walking around the house. I pay particular attention to the sill between the kitchen and dining area; it’s the sort of thing old women tend to trip on, and after such a fall, too many of their lives are never the same.

Sometimes I worry that respecting my years and acting like an old woman will age me more rapidly, but I tend to think it’s better to err on the side of caution even if I move slower than I could. Of course, accidents happen to even cautious people, but I can’t worry about every little thing — otherwise I’d never do anything! But still, I am trying to respect my many years of living so I can be around to enjoy more of them.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive? Would you even want to?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

An Exciting Life

I spent my allotted writing time today responding to the very interesting and thought-provoking comments people left on my latest blogs that I forgot I hadn’t yet posted a new blog. I’m glad I finally remembered, not just because I’d hate to break my 256-day streak of daily blogging, but because this has been a rather momentous couple of days for me.

It started Thursday afternoon when I went to a friend’s birthday party in the park. Since there were more than ten of us, I said that if anyone asked, to tell them it wasn’t a party — it was a protest, a protest against getting older and against isolation. I doubt that would have held sway with any arresting officers, but luckily, no one showed up but us. And oh, it was so wonderful seeing people! I even hugged a couple of dear friends, holding on as if we were saving each other’s lives instead of perhaps endangering them. (One friend is recuperating from a severe illness, and even though she isn’t contagious any longer, I couldn’t take a chance on hugging her, and I feel bad about that, but I was  very glad to see her up and around.)

Despite this one lapse, I will be more diligent about isolation for a while longer. Many rural communities that managed to avoid The Bob when larger communities were suffering, ended up having problems when they opened up again, and I have a real issue with being a statistic. But that’s for the future. Now back to yesterday.

Yesterday, the contractor came to get the carport that has been cluttering up my backyard. (And brought me some fresh farm eggs!) They worked so hard taking the metal carport apart (the entire day in 100+ degree weather) that I felt as if I should be paying them, when in fact, the carport was payment for some work they had already done.

It is such a joy to have it gone! It opens up my yard and makes this place feel like an estate. (Not bad for someone who thought she’d end up living in some sort of subsidized housing.)

Even better, the garage door, opener, and the rest of the OSB board for the inside walls of the garage were delivered while they were here!!! Oh, my such excitement.

And that isn’t all. The library called. Well, the building didn’t call; a librarian did. My email from the end of March asking for books via their curb-side service apparently got lost at the bottom of their email list. The poor librarian was embarrassed and apologetic, though there was no need. Still, since I couldn’t get to the library to pick up the books, she delivered them to my house. Wow! My own private bookmobile! Luckily, they aren’t going to be charging overdue rates because I won’t be getting to the books until after I finish re-re-rereading The Wheel of Time series. I have a lot of the story in my head right now, so I’m able to find answers to various plot points and to see foreshadowings that have previously eluded me, and I don’t want to halt the momentum.

The library is aiming for a July 1 reopening, which will be nice. More than nice, actually. The only change they will really have to make is to curtail computer usage (the banks of computers are all real close to one another), which doesn’t affect me at all. I seldom see anyone in the stacks anyway, so I’m not worried, even if I’ll still be in my self-imposed isolation.

I should have babied my knee today after all that activity, but I took the time to pull some boxes of stuff out of a closet that I want to store in the garage when it is finished. And those boxes were heavy!!! They weren’t heavy the last time I lifted them, so what I have been suspecting is true: I am getting elderly.

Which reminds me of another “elderly” example. I haven’t been using the back door because the step is much steeper than normal steps and it really strains my knee, so I’ve been going in and out of the front door. Yesterday, I went out to check on the work the guys were doing, and when I tried to get back in the front door, it was locked. It confused the heck out of me because the only way to lock the door when leaving is with a key, and I didn’t have the key. I hobbled around the house to the backyard, and mentioned my dilemma. “I don’t understand how I got out here,” I said.

“You came out the back door,” one fellow said. “It didn’t look like you had any problem, either. You just came out.” Then he kindly went in the house and unlocked the front door for me so I didn’t have to navigate that step. (Apparently, going out is a lot easier on my knee than climbing back in.)

Yep. Old. I don’t remember going outside. Not at all. I know it’s easy not to remember things you do by rote (which is why if you want to remember locking a door or some such, you need to do something different, like patting the key when you are finished. You still won’t remember locking the door, but you will remember patting the key.) But it’s been so long since I went out that door that I would have thought I’d remember not to go out that way, if nothing else.

Oh, well. Such is life.

And what an exciting life it has been the past couple of days! That, at least, I remember.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Becoming the Vibrant Person You Will Remember Being

I woke feeling tired today. Even though I would just as soon have lounged around all morning doing nothing, I got dressed, took a walk, and now I’ve turned on the computer to work on this blog post. After having watched my life mate/soul mate push through the impossible exhaustion of dying from cancer in order to do something, anything each day and now watching my father dealing with the infirmities of old age, including being unutterably weary all the time, I understand the truth. No matter how tired I feel today, in twenty years, I will look back on this time in my life as one of strength and vibrancy, and in thirty years, I will look back at this time as one of incredible youthfulness.

As I mentioned in a previous post, current research by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert shows that while we can see how much we have changed in the past, we never think we will change in future. But this isn’t always true. There does come a time when we know that our advancing years will bring many changes. We know we will not always be feeling the way we do today.

Someone who is dealing with an enervating illness or the weariness of old age, for example, will no longer have an interest in physical activities such as bungee jumping. (Of course, it won’t take old age to rid me of such interests since I don’t have any to begin with. Even if I wanted to participate in such daredevilish activities, my body has a strong sense of self-preservation that simply would not let me step into nothingness.)

Dwelling on the future is as futile as dwelling on the past and brings about as much satisfaction — none. And even if you know what changes will be coming, they probably will not be exactly as you imagined (and maybe you won’t be exactly as you imagined, either), so there is no point in thinking about it. But. . . being aware of a future where you will look back on the person you are today as one who is vibrant and youthful has its advantages. It allows you to do what you want to (or need to) despite your tiredness, and in so doing, become the vibrant person the future you will remember being.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+