I have had a bit of a rough day today. Nothing horrible. Just one of those days where it feels like my defenses are down and all of the pains of older age are making themselves known for whatever reason. In fact, from the moment I woke up this morning, getting old/being old has been on my mind. There are so many things about aging that you can't really conceive of until you're there. Like waking up and realizing for the umpteenth time that even with a lot of luck, the number of years left to live is a mere sliver of what seemingly lay ahead such a short time ago. And time flies so quickly now. What used to be as stretchy and sturdy as toffee now seems more like cotton candy, dissolving at a breath. And usually that's all okay but some days reality does seem to want to slap you in the face.
And today was one of those. I grieved the swiftness of the days and the shortness of the years ahead. And I worry so about what we should be doing with our lives. Obviously, we should be living out whatever dreams we have that we can afford to do, that we are physically able to do. But oh, my dreams and the man's dreams differ. He has always wanted many acres on a pond or a lake- somewhere he can fish any time he wants. A place he can hunt, too. A place where he can take his grandkids fishing and be surrounded by nothing but land and trees. And he should be able to do that. But that is not my dream. As I see it, we do not need to live farther away from the kids and stores and (oh shit) doctors and hospitals than we do now. In fact, shouldn't we be making plans for our "final years," the years when we'll absolutely need help with our daily activities? I mean, let's be honest- that time will come unless we are blessed and lucky enough to keel over dead while we're relatively still together enough to live the way we want to live.
And that's another thing. There are so many unknowns when facing the future when you're older. Of course there are always unknowns but the ones that loom when you're getting up there in age are so much more frightening in some ways.
Will these little mind-slips we're having bloom into full-fledged dementia? Will one or both of us become disabled to the point where this old house is unnavigable for us and our mobility is severely limited? What if we can't drive?
Hell. What if we can't wipe our own butts?
I know that although it is wise to have things in order, to have plans in place, it is ridiculous to dwell on these things to the point that they paralyze you and limit what you can do now due to obsessive worry. So what is the proper balance? What is the best way to live this part of our lives? Add to all these questions an anxiety disorder, a touch of agoraphobia, a pinch of an overdeveloped love of routine, and a soupçon of just plain old generalized fear of the unknown and you definitely realize that your "golden years" are not going to be filled with dancing in a white dress on a beach in Greece as the sun sets, both literally and metaphorically.
I do not know the answers to any of these questions. I just know that for now, we are relatively well and able to do things like garden and cook and work on cars and build furniture and enjoy our grandchildren and our children and read books and enjoy each other tremendously and be grateful for the experiences we've had and the memories of those things that we cherish and I really do not want to taint what we love with fears about the future.
But some days...
Some days are harder than others, especially when I think about the fact that we are already having to make certain decisions based on our present reduced abilities that signal the absolute end of a few dreams.
Reality can be a bitch.
I did garden today, a little. I pulled the pea vines and I picked another gallon and a half or so of green beans and I cleaned out the last of the poopy hay in the hen house that I have not, until now, been able to bring myself to do. I garden-carted that hay to the garden and used it for mulch between a row of beans and peppers and tomatoes. I weeded a little bit and got ant-bit as usual. It was not very hot due to the fact that the sun was hidden behind the gathering storm clouds that did indeed bring us lightning, thunder, and rain.
I made a soup with probably too much venison sausage in it, and green beans and tomatoes and garbanzo beans and garlic and onions and a few small sweet potatoes that grew last year, unbidden and unasked for in the garden.
The best thing to do, I suppose, is to be here now and realize that life goes on, within us and without us and try not to worry overmuch about those things we cannot control.
Good advice. Now if I could only follow it...
Oh, Ms. Moon. I so love your blog and read it daily and almost never comment. But today is the day when I read this:ReplyDelete
"I know that although it is wise to have things in order, to have plans in place, it is ridiculous to dwell on these things to the point that they paralyze you and limit what you can do now due to obsessive worry. So what is the proper balance? What is the best way to live this part of our lives? Add to all these questions an anxiety disorder, a touch of agoraphobia, a pinch of an overdeveloped love of routine, and a soupçon of just plain old generalized fear of the unknown and you definitely realize that your "golden years" are not going to be filled with dancing in a white dress on a beach in Greece as the sun sets, both literally and metaphorically."
This spoke to me, enveloped me. I spent today with my husband at the hospital to see if he is a candidate for a relatively new heart valve procedure. Long story; many details. But ultimately it's about fear of losing him. Me being the ultimate worrier and pessimist and therefore not the best partner for optimistic decision-making. I see all the potential negatives; he sees the potential improvements in his life. Do I share all my fears? Let him be the leader, even if the end result is tragedy/crappy? How do we recognize whether our selfishness should be tamped down? Ah, life.
Those are some hard questions and impossible to truly know the answer to. I just hope that whatever decision is made allows for good quality of life for your husband. I wish the best for both of you.Delete
I guess it is his life and his body but I feel for you both.Delete
I wonder what you can do, also, to realize both your goals; his to retire of an unnamed lake with fishing and hunting and you to say located near family, shopping and doctors where you are. This involves some honest conversation between the two of your to settle what you have and what you are able to achieve of the remaining goals. How is the island coming? Are you still confident enough to spend several weeks there? Is Mr. Moon able to take some of the "wild" excursions? I know one leg is slowing him down.ReplyDelete
I wish you a good and happy time living out all the rest of your years.
Yes. We both need to be very forthcoming about our desires and the dreams we still have that we can perhaps still manage to achieve.Delete
We are probably going to sell the Dog Island property. That has been a blow, especially for Glen. The reality of it though is that it's time to let some younger people have it, enjoy it.
And it's both of Glen's legs. It is getting harder for him to walk although he does carry on.
oh goodness...your post could not have been more timely. I've been struggling alot this past year /1 1/2 years w/ diminished *capacity*.......can't elaborate here.....but it's something that we both, now in our early 70's have been talking about quite a bit. WTF to do? HTF to handle? Be here now and take each day as it unfolds.....is all I /we can do. Powerful wisdom on your part today, thank youReplyDelete
We are all facing something as we age, aren't we? Some THINGS, actually. Real and often troubling things. I wish it weren't so but this is our fate as humans. Or, animals, really.Delete
I wish all the best for you and your husband, Susan. You know I do.
i love you mother mary moon <3 xxalainaxxReplyDelete
And I love and adore you, Mrs. Missalaineous Darling Woman!Delete
There is so much uncertainty in the world, which doesn't help. Our clown car of a government, itching to pull the rug out from us seniors. Who knows which path to take?ReplyDelete
Who indeed? Not me.Delete
Honestly, Ms. Moon! What has gotten into you today? I was looking forward to a very nice, uplifting story about a day in the life of a very lively Ms. Moon! This is absolutely not what I wanted to hear on my 77th birthday!!! (hahaha, just teasing you, you sweet woman!)ReplyDelete
Happy birthday! Sorry I was such a bummer on your birthday.Delete
YOU are the sweet woman.
Mary, I live with this reality, too. Some days harder than others. I don't know any answers, either. Except I am going to start celebrating half birthdays. Because you never know.ReplyDelete
Brilliant!! I love this!Delete
I agree with Linda Sue- that is an excellent idea. And I hope you know that I look at you as inspiration of how to live in such a way that art can be created and delight can still be had. And I have a strong feeling that you don't complain nearly as much as you could. Or as I do.Delete
Perspective is a thing.ReplyDelete
It surely is.Delete
My plan is to just keep on keeping on, do what I have always done until I can't then find a new way to do it. I just want thirty more years, which is less than half what I have already lived.ReplyDelete
I hope you do!Delete
Day by day. small victories and half birthdays but you're right, decisions are hard to make, especially alone.ReplyDelete
I think about that a lot, e. How fortunate I am to have a partner to help with these decisions.Delete
I think we all think like that to some extent. I worry (only slightly, I'm not a worrier by nature) about what will happen later if I can't manage since I live alone. At the moment I have this obsession with getting rid of "stuff". I wrote on my blog once that my biggest fear is spending my life curating "stuff" and when I one day when I feel that I'm done, that'll be the day I keel over, having spent my whole life on that bloody stuff!ReplyDelete
I hear you on the "stuff". God, I want to get rid of mine. I keep vowing to do it and then just don't. Laziness, I guess. It all loses its meaning, doesn't it, as we get older?Delete
There are advantages though to aging. Last week I sat out on the front driveway while Jack and the neighbor girl drew on the concrete with chalk. I never had the patience for that when I was younger.ReplyDelete
I've decided I want to travel to Europe with my middle daughter before she and I need help walking, sooner, rather than later. There are so many things I wish I had done but which I realize now, will never happen. Sigh. Sending hugs and love.
Well, I think we get tireder which can lead to us feeling more content to just sit sometimes. I am not sure if I am more patient or not.Delete
I think the plan to travel to Europe is a good one. And yes- soon. While you can.
Bruce Springsteen wrote a beautiful line about dreams: "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true, or is it something else?"
Live each day IS good advice, but definitely easier said than done. Uncertainty is scary, and nothing is as certain as uncertainty as we age!ReplyDelete
When my dad was about 75, he and my stepmother bought an old house next door and spent a couple of years renovating it. I thought they were crazy to start that project at that age, but they enjoyed it and it gave them something to do together. (I say that only in the spirit of showing that it's possible to take on new ventures, but not necessarily as a recommendation.)
I know what you mean about time, though. Every now and then I wake up in the middle of the night and think, "Shit. I may only have xx years left to live. Or less!"
I see older people starting new projects and it's inspiring but sometimes I feel like folks think that as long as they still have things they "have" to do, they won't die. You know?Delete
I tell you one thing I know I'm not going to do in my old age- move to the Villages! Jesus Christ.
Yes. Middle of the night math is not something we should attempt.
What a timely post for me to read as I have been having the same thoughts a lot lately. My best friend's sister died 2 weeks ago (she was 75) and my cousin's husband died last week (he was 73).My brother is starting the slippery slope of dementia and he is only 1 year older than me!ReplyDelete
What should I do with my life? Is wasting time allowed or should I be having more adventures and making a bigger difference in the world! Yikes!
I was reading through the list of my high school classmates who have died and it went on for pages and pages. We are at that age. And stage.Delete
Let's live it up while we can. Maybe?
This is a good thing for me to read this morning as I contemplate many of the same things and the night from hell that I had last night. It's good to know that the things of which you write are -- generally speaking -- those of the human condition, as they say, and we're not alone with the feelings and anxiety and dread. Not ever.ReplyDelete
Oh, Elizabeth! I'm so sorry you had a night from hell.Delete
Yes. This is all part of the human condition. The fate of all of us animals. We are certainly not alone. You are not alone. Sending love.
It is one of those things that I['ve been pondering more on, esp since Tim was sick earlier this year. I've out lived my father. I am 66 now. My mother died when she was 73. We are all going to die, and the only thing that I know is that I mean to do it with as much grace and dignity as possible. I worry about dementia. I hope that my body does not outlive my mind. But then I've seen people whose minds out live their body and that's not a happy thing either. I can only hope that my pieces and parts all give up the ghost simultaneously.ReplyDelete
Don't we all want to die with grace and dignity? I think so. But how do you ensure that that is how it goes?Delete
And sadly, it is rare that pieces and parts give up together. Life just wants to continue, doesn't it?
37paddington: we are truly sister souls. I have been thinking deeply about these things too. I’ve wanted to write about it but haven’t been able to marshal the words. You found them for me. Sucks doesn’t it, this aging thing. Lately for me it has accelerated. Thank you for speaking to my heart tonight. My heart greets yours. Love.ReplyDelete
I missed this one yesterday. Be Here Now. that's my plan for the future and older age. there's no way of knowing what is in store so how do you prepare for it? well, I should have had a grab bar put in the shower when it got remodeled but I forgot until the tile was already up. but yeah, I think about what if I get infirm, what if I 'can't' wipe my own butt. that's got to be the worst. I don't worry about dementia though, doesn't really run in my family. debilitating stroke though, yeah, that does. and what to do with these last years? Marc doesn't like to do things or travel, he's happy sitting and reading. I'd like to do some traveling, see more of the world but probably won't. I'd like to go to Morocco and Greece.ReplyDelete