Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Way Old People Dance

I woke up this morning so stiff I could barely walk. I remember reading in a book that old people walk that way because...they hurt...and I now know what that means. When we are young, we use our bodies with such abandoned ignorance. We lift things we should not, we dance until dawn, we dig ditches and we carry a baby on each hip. We fall, we get up, we say, "Wow, that's gonna be a big bruise," and twenty years later we don't know why we hurt in that joint.

It's the stuff for jokes, the way old people walk and move and dance and bitterly complain and make that noise when they get out of a chair. But let me tell you something, Darlin's, it's not a joke. The human body does have an expiration date and as the years go on, the product loses its shine, its glide, its nimbleness, I don't care what vitamins you take, what exercise you do, how well you eat, how many carrots you juice and drink.
Okay, I haven't tried that one yet.

I've said many times before that I have looked at the way the skin lay on older people's bones, the way they shuffle across a room, the way they "let themselves go," and I have thought, "Thank God, that will not be me."
And of course, I have learned that short of premature death, that WILL be me.

And in taking care of Owen I realize how many of my aches and nerve problems (real actual nerves, not like you're-getting-on-my-last-nerve) come from holding and carrying and tending babies. Each way I curve my hand around his small butt, each way I cup his head, each way I jut out this hip or that, is part of the map of my very own muscular-skeletal architecture at this point. Now don't get me wrong- I can still do this. I am strong (for a fifty-five year old woman), and I can still hold and cup and support and jut as well as anyone. But I can feel the way these actions, having been done thousands and thousands of times from the age of twelve when my younger brother was born, have had their way with me. I think I have carpal EVERYTHING syndrome.

But it's okay. It is more than okay. They sell Ibuprofen by the gallon, the vat, the bushel. The stiffness loosens up as the day goes on and by the time I am rocking Owen to sleep later today, I won't even be thinking about it. What I will be thinking about is how my heart is as open and clear and actually, far more so! than it ever was. And that as unthinkable as it was to me as a new mother to imagine having a grandchild one day, it is now my reality and thus, my heart is that much bigger, that much more in wonder at this miracle of it all.

And that's what I wanted to say this morning. I don't have a good picture to go with these words. What picture would there be? A swollen knee? A face full of wrinkles? Well, yes, but so what? I'd rather it go without a picture because those of us who ARE this age know what I'm talking about and for those of you who are still young and who can get out of bed in the morning without feeling every movement you made the day before, it is not part of your reality.

But I would just say to remember once in a while not to take that for granted, that ease of movement, the way your body still feels like it could fly sometimes.
And also, not to laugh when you see old people dance. Okay? Could you do that for me?

Owen's here. I'm feeling fine. My heart is huge. It will allow me to dance through this day with him, albeit a bit stiffly, perhaps. I am so grateful for that.

And for Ibuprofen.


  1. You are strong for an any-year-old woman. I would not challenge you to arm wrestling.
    Mama! I wish I could be out there with you and Owen! One of these days I will be. How is Lily holding up? I'll call you after work and you can fill me in. Thank you for sacrificing your body for our every want and need.
    I love you a million.

  2. I will not laugh... I'll be the funny dancer on the other side! ;-D

  3. May- My arms are not what they used to be. But I would not go back and undo any movement at all. Well, maybe some of the falls...
    But the cradling and holding? Not one bit!

    Ms. Fleur- Okay. It's a deal.

  4. ...and even though aging hurt a bit here and there and in the corners..still there is beauty in growing old...most of us are afraid that aging takes something away from us...but in the end..something will be giving back...and 55...thats nothing yet...you still have a lot of time to grow old ms moon...so shake that stiffness off of you..you have another day to shine....

  5. I know exactly how you feel. I'm a year older than you are and some mornings it's all I can do to heave myself out of my bed. I also have to be careful not to sit in one place too long, because I won't be able to get up without help, which can be a little scary when I have both of my grandchildren by myself! I'm glad you had such a wonderful day with Owen. What a lucky little fellow he is to have you as his grandmother.

  6. Oh I hear you and I'm only in my 40's! Being around 20-somethings all the time made me realize how our bodies are so different. Cold mornings make me feel that ski trip, that marathon - all those adventures.

    My little friend Makeda will stand at my feet with her arms outstretched, sobbing for me to hold her. And of course it's always when I can barely move from a pulled or strained something. But somehow she always ends up back in my arms, especially if I'm preparing a meal. (Now though, we negotiate and compromise based on my pain level because that girl is smart and caring and knows I'd do anything for her.) And my godson? He just shimmies up my body and next thing I know we're face to face and I'm holding the Monkey Boy until he's finished. Or a very young stranger visiting a few houses down saw me come home and waddled over to me with his arms outstretched.

    They do not understand my aches and pains - they understand that I have such a soft body that supports and comforts. I can put any baby to sleep, and I blame my boring personality and excess of adipose tissue. :)

    (why are my comments to you always so long??)

  7. I hear you darlin. I'm starting to head that way. Everything is just so stiff. My doctor (I have a good one, bless her) says, "Use it or lose it literally." Goddamn, I hate to move. I' m the laziest SOB alive.

    Love you!


  8. Ibuprofen is a food group for baby sitting grammys

  9. Danielle- I still am not quite sure why you read what I write but I am so glad you do and give me your comments. They are just precious.
    As are you.

    Lois- Yesterday I got in the big old clawfoot tub with Owen and when it came time to get out, I realized that this is probably not something I should be doing. Isn't that weird? How does this happen?

    Nola- I love your long comments. That one, especially, warmed me and made me smile. When children reach their arms up, you must reach yours out and pull them close and let them shimmy up as far as they can go.

    Ms. Bastard- Unfortunately, your doctor is right. Although I fear it is all just putting off the inevitable.
    Love you, too!

  10. My left hip aches in the cold (and, come to think of it, in the heat as well) from (ahem) 17 years of carting kids in various stages on that hip. I will also carry anything remotely heavy on that left hip, and have been known to hold a bag of flour on that hip and then SWAY in the grocery store, as if to soothe that crotchety old bag of flour. A carryover, and a small price to pay. Could be lots worse reasons for having an aching hip, and hey, I don't dance, so what the hell?

  11. It's weird to think that when you're eighty-eight years old, Owen will be thirty. And you'll remember how beautiful and nimble you were when you got to take care of him, oh so long ago.

  12. I'm right there with you, hoping I don't get an ulcer from the ibuprofen, creaking through my days wondering what could possible hurt/break/go wrong next? Arthritis and thin skin really piss me off, and I'm aging clumsy and there's nothing graceful about it. At least there are funny people to talk about the indignities and commiserated with! My kids get the enjoy your bodies while they work speach often, and they roll their eyes, as they should. The perk of youth is not having to think about getting old. My Dad always said it beats the alternative and went about his day smiling and never complaining. Why didn't I get that gene?
    Enjoy your Owen filled days, and take it easy on those joints!

  13. Nobody laughs at old people dancing. They hope, for the same for themselves.

  14. Nobody laughs at old people dancing. They hope, for the same for themselves.

  15. I will not laugh at old people when they dance. You have my word on that. I saw that picture of Owen and you and it is awesome. Someone looks like a very happy Grandmother. Take that Ibuprofen and dance the day away with that darling little angel. Take care Ms. Moon.

  16. my kids are no longer babies and I know the next time I will be able to kiss those cute little piggy toes is with my grandkids! So, I'm waiting and praying, and taking care of myself so that I will be strong enough to take care of them!!

  17. @ ms moon

    why? because i simply cant resist:-) like i told you..you remind me..in and outside..of a loved one i lost long ago and reading your blog and emailing with you from time to time gives me so much solace, joy and peace...
    i even came to read while i was so sick i couldnt even think of commenting..but i came to read your blog every day...we can speak here about a clear addiction..cant we?

  18. I limped into town this morning. It's already catching up with me. :-) But thanks for the warning. If our bodies are going to be worn down from anything, what better cause?

  19. I realized recently that I have been stiff and sore for years. I guess raising large animals has taken its toll! I have to stop myself from shuffling like a little old lady. It's so much easier to walk that way though!

  20. It's funny how our body remembers those things. Your arms will get used to holding his weight, your hip to having him rest there. So happy for you to see him again today!

  21. There's a reason why God gives babies to young people.

  22. Mamma- I can't thank you eneough for taking suc good care of Oweie. I am sorry if it is causing you pain, although I know you say you don't care. I am the luckiest mommy in the world to have you take care of him. I love you.

  23. Mamma- I can't thank you eneough for taking suc good care of Oweie. I am sorry if it is causing you pain, although I know you say you don't care. I am the luckiest mommy in the world to have you take care of him. I love you.

  24. Kori- It is MY right hip- the preferred baby-carrying hip for me. And I have been known to start swaying just hearing a crying baby. Isn't it funny, that muscle memory?

    Elizabeth- Your lips to God's ears.

    Mel- Oh, I am enjoying it. And your daddy was right, although I can remember my ninety-something year old granddaddy saying, "Don't get old."
    Bless his heart.

    Jo- You're sweeter than me. Or than I WAS, anyway.

    Mr. Shife- Oh, I AM. That boy is going to make me young again. Or really, really old. One or the other but either way, I'm going there.

    Roshi- Good for you! It will happen!

    Danielle- Oh yes we can talk about anything. And I am so glad I can do those things for you. You have no idea how much that means to me.

    Mwa- Exactly. Life is hard on the body and that's okay.

    Sandra- Hell, chickens can take it out of me sometimes! Large animals? I leave that joy to you. And don't you HATE it when you find yourself shuffling? Jesus.

    Ginger- I'm grateful I'm getting him when he is still relatively small and light. I will need to work up to what he will become!

    Lucy- Too true, dear.

    Lily- It is my joy, it is my heart's desire to take care of him when you are at work. In a perfect world, you wouldn't have to but then I'd miss this opportunity and I am so glad I have it. You have no idea what he is to me. Well, maybe you do...
    I love you so...Mama

  25. My dear Ms Moon, we shall dance until the end of love, and then we will dance among the stars, because we are born to dance, with our feet, with our eyes, with our hopes and with our fears. We dance with shoes and without them, with our memories and our dreams. We dance. Dancing fools we are and that shall never stop. Never. Because only the ones who dance can tell the difference between noise and music.

  26. Allegra- When you leave me posts I feel as if I have looked into your eyes and you into mine and we have seen all that matters.
    Thank-you for beautifying my world, all of it.

  27. And I'm grateful for you! So glad you are having a fun week. Tomorrow's the last day at my job--yikes!

  28. ha haaaa! creaky clattery stiff and with flattery; keep moving! the alternative isn't as much fun!

  29. Oh I know this.
    And how I can't sleep in even if I wanted to because I have to pee, and my back is sore and it's time to get up and get moving.
    And how I actually fall asleep if I get too cozy early in the evenings, or late afternoons. I could never have imagined that . When my in laws are napping after meals or in the middle of a movie I used to think "how" "why" , " never" . Now I think, move over and share me some blanket.

  30. Pass some of that Ibuprofen my way, Ms. Moon. I'm all full of aches today. Not even from dancing, from being sick again.

    But a great post. As my body is failing in weird ways, I'm jealous of the reckless abandon I used to just ASSUME it would work before. Now, I assume nothing.

  31. Sally Moon- I always say that it's not that we have pain, it's that we have an Ibuprofen deficiency.

    SJ- I hope you get a cake!

    Magnum- Yo, boy. I know it.

    Deb- Naps are holy rituals.

    Aunt Becky- Oh, honey. Just you wait.

  32. i m glad you do those things for me..:-)..and so many other people too...a lot of days would be empty without this blog...

    and..sorry..my english...the serious addiction i was reffering to..of course is..your blog..:-)

  33. Danielle- I understood what you were saying about the addiction. Your English is FINE!

  34. really? sometimes i feel like my english dont makes sense at all and i m totally lost in translation...

  35. Danielle- Your written English is probably far better than at least sixty percent of the high school graduates in the county I live in. I am not kidding you.

  36. We were discussing this very thing at Thanksgiving. I got up to do dishes and both of my knees and ankles popped. LOUD. My Uncle kept saying that at 32, I am too young for these noises. I attribute it to sports when I was younger and waiting tables and bartending for over a decade. Ibuprofen is a wonderful thing!

  37. really? thats..not so good i guess..:-/

  38. Ms. Dish- My knees have always popped and generally, they are fine. But the rest of me? Not so much. We use our bodies hard, don't we?

    Danielle- Not so good for our local high school graduates. Great for you, though.

    SJ- Was it a good one?

  39. Yeah--it was such a strange day. Long blog post coming, I think. Nothing is fully sunk-in yet...

  40. I found a magazine at my allergist's office about cryogenics. The thesis of the magazine was that people don't really have to die (they can be frozen, and wait for technology to unfreeze them).

    And since, like you, I'm 55, I can't imagine why anyone would want to go on indefinitely, with worn-out joints and burnt-out brains.

  41. SJ- And what a beautiful post it was.

    Jeanne- Exactly and no SHIT! Don't freeze my ass. Please.


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