Letting the Future Take Care of Itself

I accidentally came across an article yesterday about how signs of neglect when it comes to the home of an elderly person, such as an overgrown yard or dilapidated house, can prompt an investigation and perhaps have their home taken away.

I say I “accidentally” came across the article because it’s not a subject I would ever pursue on purpose — just that brief scan gave me the heebie-jeebies. I’m not sure how true it is that signs of neglect can prompt an investigation, especially in an area like this where there are so many derelict houses (many owned by the resident slumlord), but it made me worry about taking care of my house and made me wonder what I was thinking when I put in the lawn.

I can take care of both the house and lawn now with no problem, but as I get older? Not so much. And it’s doubtful whether I’d have the wherewithal to pay for getting things taken care of. So there I will be, a frail old lady, with an unkempt yard and a house desperately in need of paint, and . . .

Nope. Don’t want to go there.

Actually, I do know what I was thinking when I put in the yard. I wanted a small patch of green in the front because I figured I could easily take care of that even if I got frail, but I ended up with the tag-end of someone else’s sod job. I worried that those leftovers wouldn’t be enough to cover the area I’d set aside for a small lawn, but the workers kept laying the sod and laying the sod and pretty soon I had a pretty yard that will eventually be pretty hard to take care of.

I did have to laugh at my tarot reading today. The Three of Wands said I had great skill in realizing plans and goals, but the Two of Pentacles warned that my goals are becoming incompatible with reality. Yep. Sounds about right. Especially when it comes to the yard. The whole point of creating paths and planting wildflowers that will eventually naturalize was to make things easier on me in my old age, not harder.

But I can’t be sorry about the grass. It is so pretty! I’ll keep it looking good as long as I can and try not to worry about what comes after. I did think, the other day when I was mowing, that I should have put the pretty lawn on the neighbor’s property. That way I’d be able to enjoy it without having to do the upkeep!

I suppose I’ll get used to the work when I get used to the tools (the next one I need to figure out how to use is my string trimmer), but for the next few days, I’m taking a hiatus, both on the worrying and on the work. I’m not even watering anything. It’s just too darn windy to be outside.

By the time the wind dies down (according to the forecast, we’re in for a lot of wind for another couple of weeks), the last frost will have passed. I’m hoping the frost we had last night will be the last — it sure took a toll on my poor tulips. Luckily, I thought to take a picture yesterday when they were looking good.

Also, luckily, I am hale enough that I can still maintain myself and my property. That’s all that should matter today. The future can take care of itself.

***

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?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Too Concerned with Age?

People tell me I’m too concerned with age, and perhaps that’s true, but I don’t necessarily see such concern as a bad thing. It keeps me focused on what I can do now to protect myself later. For example, I do balance exercises, stretching, walking, knee exercises to strengthen my knees, and various other activities. There might come a time when I can’t do these things anymore, and so I do them now when I can, and when it counts. Exercise always counts, of course, but it’s a lot easier to maintain one’s muscles than to redevelop them after they have atrophied.

I am also cognizant of where I am and where I place my feet. I hear over and over again (and I see the proof in people I have known) that if you want to live to a vital old age, don’t fall. In fact, the last advice the orthopedic surgeon gave me during my final appointment after he’d done what he could to fix the wrist, arm, and elbow I’d destroyed in a fall, was, “Don’t fall.”

I have fallen since then, though luckily, I didn’t even bruise myself any of those times. I am aware, however, that such luck might not always hold. After all, it deserted me back when I took that horrible fall after a dance performance. (I was heading back to my car and when I walked between two cars, the motion-activated parking lot lights went off, and in the darkness, I tripped over a misplaced parking berm. Actually, the berm wasn’t misplaced. The idiots who maintained the parking lot repainted the lines for the parking spaces so that cars were parked in the open spaces between two berms.) Come to think of it, I was lucky back then, too. With all the damage, I could have lost the arm, but I didn’t, and I even managed to gain normal usage

I come by my wariness of falling through experience rather than advancing years, but I am still aware of how necessarily it is for a healthy old age to refrain at all possible from falling. Surprisingly, this awareness of a need for not falling doesn’t set me up for a fall, though you’d think it would. Like if you’re trying not to think of a pink elephant, that’s all you can think of. (I bet you thought of a pink elephant, didn’t you?) Because of this, I use my hiking poles, even though at times it makes me feel old, as if I were so feeble, I needed two canes. But better to use them when I can rather than when I have to.

To be honest, I don’t think I’d be so concerned with age if I weren’t a caregiver. When one is young, you never equate yourself with the elderly. You simply know that in the division of life, you are young, and they are old. But now that I am getting older, I see myself in these nonagenarians, and I wonder what I will be like at that age (assuming I live that old. Both my mother and her mother died in their middle eighties). Some problems are inevitable, but are all of them? I don’t know. But the question arises every day, and so I do what I can to hold back the growing tsunami of my years.

All things considered, I am doing well for my age. Doing well for a younger age, actually. A lot of that “doing well” is because of my concern with growing older, because despite what people might think, I don’t sit and stew. I do.

***

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.

Taking It Easy

Laziness doesn’t pay, at least not for me. Although I’m supposed to water my new lawn every day, yesterday, I refrained — it was too cold and chilly for me to go out, and the high temperatures weren’t going to get very high. I figured when it warmed up today, I could give it a good soaking.

It was a good plan, but plans tend to be overthrown by other plans. As it turned out, I had to work a full day today, so I needed to water before I left. That early, it was much colder than it was yesterday, and all my digits about froze.

I don’t seem to be able to water, either by hand or by sprinkler, without getting soaked. I thought I was being smart by wearing nitrile gloves to keep my hands from getting wet, which did work for that purpose, but those gloves didn’t do anything to stave off the cold.

Luckily, we will have a respite from the cold for several days starting tomorrow. And since I gave the grass a good soaking today, if by any chance I have to miss tomorrow, I’ll be okay.

It’s funny to me that after my dad died, the last person I had any responsibility for, I eschewed every responsibility except for taking care of myself. I didn’t even want a houseplant — it overwhelmed me just thinking of having to care for it. And now here I am, with a house, plants (both indoor and out), a yard and grass. And a job helping to care for an older woman. That’s a lot of responsibility for a person who wants none. But surprisingly, it’s not a problem. I do what I need to do when I need to do it, and then take it easy the rest of the time.

So far so good.

***

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.

Happy Youthing!

I realized a couple of days ago that I’ve spent so much time, money, and attention on rejuvenating my ancient VW, that I haven’t been paying attention to myself, so I’ve resolved to take better care of myself. Be more cognizant of nutrition. Eat more vegetables. Erase wheat and sugar from my diet. Go to bed earlier. Walk more. (I’ve gotten lax on walking, mostly because I live far from anywhere interesting to walk.) Maybe even write more, if only on this blog.

This isn’t a New Year’s resolution, you understand. Just a resolution. The proximity of a new year is coincidence. It’s simply time to pay more attention to myself before the habit of sloth gets insurmountable. I’ve always tried to take care of myself and to stick to such a healthy regimen, but trying and sticking have both deserted me in recent months. Now I’m ready to get back into my youthing program. (Youth-ing, not you-thing, though I suppose both are accurate in a way.)

And none too soon. I met an old man at the dumpster in the complex where I am living, who watched me walking with my bag of trash. He said, “Luckily I can drive.” I just smiled, but I thought, “Luckily I can walk.” And I want to make sure I keep that ability for many years to come. Although I have given up on the idea of an epic walk, something in me keeps wondering. Could I? Would I? Should I?

But such thoughts are for another day. For now, I’m just gosalading to get back into the swing of walking. And, of course, concentrate on vegetables and nutrition, even if some of that nutrition comes from supplements.

I want to make sure I am strong enough to enjoy the good days I have left. Tragedy strikes without warning. Cancer develops in secret to spring forth fully grown. Joints get old. But I don’t have to tell you about the vicissitudes of life. You know what I’m talking about.

One thing I have no plans to change is my attitude, though people often tell me attitude is the key to keeping young. The trouble is, people are so gung-ho in their belief in the necessity for positive thinking that they forget that downs as well as ups are part of living, and should be celebrated in their own way. (Celebrated meaning observed. Celebrated meaning commemorated. Celebrated meaning felt, acknowledged, and processed.) Crying, screaming, whining even, are all appropriate at times. If others don’t appreciate these sorts of reactions, then, well . . . then nothing. There’s not a single thing I can do about their attitude, only mine.

Sometimes there is no way to “at least” your way into feeling good about a trauma. “At least” we’re together. “At least” it’s curable. “At least” you/he/she/it isn’t suffering. Some things are truly terrible and have to be dealt raw without the insulation of “at leasts”. To do otherwise, to raise positive thinking to such a degree as to mitigate the horror, causes untold stress and makes any true adjustment toward a new life all but impossible. And makes a person old before their time. (I realize I am in a minority in my belief. Everyone deals with trauma the only way they can, which is generally to pretend to be happy regardless.)

It now looks as if my cross-country trip will be more of a spring trip than a winter one, so there’s more preparation to do. I don’t have spring/summer hiking clothes, so I’ll need to rectify that. And figure out how to keep to a sort of nutritious diet on the road. Vegetables don’t come refrigerated, so is it possible to make salads and take them along? (Salads that are long on vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, and short on lettuce.) Or do all cut vegetables go bad quickly? All part of the learning process, I suppose. All part of my youthing resolution.

Happy youthing to you, too.

***

(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.”)