When I first thought of writing this post, it was going to be all about how things have changed for me over the past 2 years, how my perspective on things is different, how even something so small as how healthy I consider myself to be has changed and how I’ve aged. But other events – outside of my personal situation have changed so much that I must include those elements as well.
So this is about aging – but not just about my own.
I’ve always considered my parents to be “younger than their age.” They’ve always looked and acted younger than others their age. Even my mother’s 2 experiences with breast cancer seemed to age her just slightly – and really outwardly only in the way she looked.
But the advancement of my dad’s macular degeneration and the consistent loss of weight and body mass that my mom has experienced began to change things over the past several years.
My dad now has no driver’s license. His eye doctor took away his privilege on his birthday this past year – his 90th. It was a change for him in more than a card in his wallet. It changed his independence and his attitude. He can’t go anywhere without help. He has finally realized that he cannot see to do some tasks that he’s done for most of his life. His gate is different and he and we have to watch him when he walks – even in the house to make sure he doesn’t trip over something or lose his balance and fall backwards. So he’s dependent. He’s fall-prone. He’s bored. He’s stuck.
My mom has never been a large person, but always healthy looking. She’s consistently lost weight over the past 5-7 years and is now a tiny, narrow thing whose head looks like it outweighs her body significantly – and seems constantly to pull her forward or make her list to one side or the other …. and fall. In the past year, she’s been diagnosed with heart failure, has fallen several times and now has a pacemaker-difibrilator installed. But she continues to tip over – recently falling 3 times. This finally got her to her new primary care doctor who ordered a cat scan (she can’t have an MRI because of her new “devices.”)
They’ve grayed and looked more stooped. You can’t trust that they will make it from one end of their living area to the other without tripping on something. And the chance of getting a call about an accident or incident with them grows with each day.
So I see it. Aging.
I also live it. My last 2 years (to the date) are the cause of part of it. It was 2 years ago tomorrow that I had the appointment with my primary care physician that set all of my madness in motion. The discussion with her about both our concerns over some changes in my body…
I knew she thought it was serious with the speed in which she got me in at Levine.
And the two year since have been something I never thought I would live. The cancer battle. And that is a battle that will age you.
I can tell by looking in the mirror that I’ve gone through it.
My eyes, my more “experienced” looking face, the “age” spots on my skin, the still pink tone to my left shoulder blade, the scars, the untoned body….
And then there’s perspective. I look at things differently. I suddenly feel the need to simplify, declutter, clarify. Things that seemed priority before May of 2015 have taken a back seat to being alive or have fallen off the radar totally.
I look in the mirror and see a person I didn’t see 2 years back.
I know this is all a process. It’s what we do. We’re born. We grow up. We experience things. We develop. We change and we make changes. We mature. We learn. We think we can do anything and that there is time to do anything.
We age. We decide there are things we can’t do anymore. We realize there are things we will never do again and things we just won’t get to.
Instead of seeming like it’s a beginning….I can start to see the end.
I’m not trying to be fatalistic or morbid. It’s just the truth and I suppose seeing the decline in my parents come so quickly has made me realize that even more.
I know that it won’t be long until we won’t have them around anymore. I try to figure out what that day will be like and what time after that will be like.
I realize that I’m headed for 60. Dennis will be 70 in June. Yeah. Do I have to say more?
I’m not saying I think neither of us will be here in 10 years. I’m saying our life is different. I’ve never had to make sure that I got rest before. I was always the bundle of energy, the every-ready battery. Not so much. After surgeries and treatments, I have to take my rest time.
So does Dennis. A hot day on the golf course or of yard work. And he needs to chill in his chair for a while.
I get it. I’ve reached the point where my silver hair looks better with silver jewelry. I choose different clothing colors because I’m a cool instead of a warm.
Well, a cool instead of a warm for color choice but definitely not for body temperature. I’m constantly hot. My poor turtlenecks and heavy sweaters haven’t seen use in 2 years and only sporadic use between menopause onsets in the 5-8 years before that.
Aging. I’ll accept it with a laugh and a smile. But I won’t give in to it. It’s going to have to chase me down.