The elders…

This past weekend we celebrated my mother and her twin’s birthday. They are presently 83 and along with their peers are suffering from a mounting list of ailments. My mother has Parkinson’s and has recently begun to “freeze” among her many other symptoms. Her husband (not my father) has been awesome in taking care of her, but he seemed very tired, distracted, and sad yesterday. He still works (they need the money) but due to my mother’s lack of balance and tendency to fall often, he will be quitting soon and staying at home full-time to take care of her. My aunt has finally given up driving and also has a hard time with balance, especially after her last bout with cancer. Her husband, my uncle, uses an oxygen tank and spit up twice during the birthday festivities. My mother’s older sister is in a home, strong as a horse, but without any ability to make words make any sense anymore.

I remember all of them vibrant and alive and nuanced and sarcastic and loud and assertive. Now they are docile and needy and openly vulnerable. I remember being afraid of my mother’s older sister and my own mother as well. Now I help to assuage their fears. There are gifts in growing older, both for those who are aging and for those who are connected to them. I see courage in their ability to get through each day. I see an amazing strength and will. I see a letting go and a truly zen attitude of it is what it is. Gifts though they may be, I hope I am dead before I can teach them.

My Next Life by Woody Allen

In my next life I want to live my life backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way.

Then you wake up in an old people’s home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day.

You work for 40 years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, and then you are ready for high school. You then go to primary school, you become a kid, and you play. You have no responsibilities; you become a baby until you are born.

And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then Voila! You finish off as an orgasm!”

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3 Responses to The elders…

  1. Mrs. Chili says:

    I have so much to say about this, yet I find myself unable to compose all that thinking into coherent prose. I will agree with your last sentiment, though; I hope I’m dead, too, before I can teach the things that very old age (and the things that come with it) have to teach.

    LOVE the Woody Allen bit! I’d heard it before, I think, but seeing it here, in exactly the right context, was perfect.

  2. I remember my grandmother getting old (older). She was always on the go. Until she wasn’t. She ended up living with my aunt and being here and then often she wasn’t. One day when my daughter was little we went over to visit. She wanted to watch TV but my grandmother was sitting on the couch. So I told to go ask gram if it was ok. My grandmother suggested she find something more fun to do. Out of that my daughter found out that when my grandmother grew up they didn’t have TV’S and had to make their own fun. My daughter and grandmother spent the rest of the afternoon talking about how life was when my grandmother was a little girl. It was the longest my grandmother had been “here” in a long time. All my aunts and uncles smoked like chimminies and died in the early 60’s. Maybe they knew something we don’t.

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