We are all doing it.
Getting older, that is. Perhaps we are wondering and curious at the process and results; or scared or bored or contemplative about the prospect, sudden and unfolding. But we all know that aging happens. We don’t really feel it happening—until we do. Right?
Why am I discussing this now? Because my mother is in her nineties. Because most of my friends have already lost both parents. Because my little dog (only 3!) is sick, and I don’t know whether she will heal. Because my son is a tall strapping young man. Because I feel fine (so far), and the days and months and years whirl by, and because I clearly remember being five years old and lying in my yellow canopy bed and counting the material sections (supported by horizontal wooden poles) of the canopy above my head. Five. Perfect!
Then I turned six.
OK, no problem; just include one of the vertical wooden poles in the yearly birthday count, and we’re back to business. The following year, I included two vertical wooden poles, and so on. Three. Then four. Finally came the day when I counted all of the poles on the whole darn bed.
Who needs a canopy bed, anyway? Just count the walls of the house!
And so this writer took deep and lasting note of the relenting march of time. Tick-tock.
I also remember being nineteen and visiting my grandmother. She was in her nineties, unhappily residing at the Sephardic Home for the Aged in New York. She wore, as always, weird old-people stockings and off-the-boat black shoes and a shapeless dress draping down to her calves. During our visit, Grandma cried with grief, frustration, and boredom—along with her distaste of bad food. I felt bad. I knew she should be in her own home still, cooking chicken or rice; or she should be with us. But both my parents worked full time, and I was leaving the nest. I got that. I understood. No one’s fault, this natural life thing.
Then our visit was over. I climbed into the car with my parents and thought how young they looked and how grateful I was not to have to dwell on this. Not yet, anyway. Most of that aging stuff would be later.
Well, now is later, of course. It’s also different.
I am more of me with each passing year; the person I did not have the confidence to be so fully before. This is a small burst of joy.
I am more appreciative each year. I treasure my dog’s wet nose this morning and the smell of daffodils on the table and the power of choice in each day, even the mucky ones. This is a small burst of power.
My wonder and fears shift constantly, like tiny aftershocks after the earthquake I once experienced in San Francisco. Ooooh, now I’m scared of that? Oh, it’s okay, just marvel at the sight of my son arriving at the airport. Ooooh, now this to worry about or grieve or figure out or manage? Oh, never mind, find meaning, keep on trucking, give to others, create, expand, FLY…
This is a small burst of courage. At least I hope it is.
I used to blog weekly. I aim to again. Writers write, and social workers are social—and, well, I’m both! Would love to hear from you, if you are so inclined as well.
With warm wishes,