No one wants to be old–there’s a multi-billion dollar industry built around avoiding it. But why all the hoopla and stigma around being or becoming old? If you are blessed to get to the point where you are considered old, congratulations–that means you were given the chance to live life. Maybe we don’t like even the hint of getting old because we don’t want to think about all the things we’ve missed out on, didn’t do, or even about the dumb things we did do. We don’t like to think about the chances missed or come to grips with the fact we may not be able to do the same things we used to. Maybe that’s why we don’t like change either. (That’s a whole other subject to blog about!) Maybe if we admit that we’re getting old we have to face our regrets…or even the possiblity of death. (And really, who wants to do that?)
Why all the talk on becoming old? Maybe because it’s on my brain after today’s events. Today my mom and I went to visit my grandmother for the quarterly “state of the Ginnymom” address from the nursing home. It’s where we meet with the home director and her main nurses to go over her current care and address any future needs or concerns. Nothing about it is fun. Nothing. Actually, not true. Today was one of the first meetings where a positive report was given on the improvement made in physical therapy and weight gain, and that was something to cheer for. Yay Ginnymom! But navigating through the sea of wheelchairs and wrinkles and weird smells is not always the most enjoyable of experiences. I don’t think anyone ever really wants to get to a point where they need a nursing home, no matter how good of a facility it is. But, if we’re blessed enough to live long enough, I’m glad there are places out there that will provide those services…this particular one has an ice cream machine. Makes visiting her twice a week a wee bit yummier.
I have been around the “old” much more than I ever anticipated. I live and work in a little mountain town that is a retirement community and an outdoor playground for active seniors …the average age is over 60, no joke. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very active and lovable community with some of the fanciest RV’s and ATV’s I’ve ever seen, but I definitely cut the average age in half if I go to happy hour at the country club. It’s kinda funny, really. The personalities and experiences that reside in this community definitely make for some entertaining conversations when hanging with the locals! For the last year I had been living with Ginnymom in her home as a type of in-home caretaker to help my mom out with her increasing need for care. (Try explaining that one to a random stranger or a first date–who wants to admit being a 30-something living at home with grandma? *laughing*) At the time I had just moved back to Colorado and had the means and the opportunity to help out in that department, so the plan was to avoid the nursing home situation for as long as possible…meaning I would be the “assisted living” for as long as the opportunity and her health allowed. (I’ve got some funny stories of catching her washing her dishes with Comet, cleaning out year-old eggs from the fridge, and becoming really creative on throwing out garbage. Little hoarder.)
But when a series of strokes took her out this past January, we were no longer able to care for her in the way she needed. We actually almost lost her. I will never forget the day I found her half-naked on the floor in her bedroom, shivering and unable to speak. We are very lucky to still have her. But the image of her and how sick and frail she was when we finally had to admit her to the nursing home is part of what made today’s good report that much sweeter–there is always hope and room for improvement even when you’re old. I am so grateful for facilities like the one she’s in and cannot thank the nurses and staff enough for caring for her and those like her. It’s not easy being old–and getting old is not for the faint of heart either. I believe it’s important to respect those that are already there, they’ve earned it.
And maybe that’s why I’m not all that afraid to get old. Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to be the kind of old where I’m mean, crotchety, and full of regrets. On the contrary–I want to be the kind of old where I can rock out in my rocking chair, tell tall tales to my grandkids, and cheers those around me with Ensure. Although it wasn’t easy living with an 89 year-old, I also don’t regret any of the time that I got to spend with such a wonderful kind-hearted family member. I firmly believe that we reap what we sow. Living with her was my way of sowing good seeds into her world so that one day when I’m in that stage of life someone will be kind enough to be there and do the same for me. (And if I don’t live to be that old, I want to go out with a bang!) If I’m going to have wrinkles, I want them to be smile and laugh lines. Each day truly is a gift and I do not want to waste even a single one. That’s part of what the whole 30×30 list is about–putting down on paper and then making efforts to bring to life the kinds of things that will allow me later in life to look back and be able to say, “Bring on the wrinkles…I’ve earned it.” Cheers to that!
QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:
“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” ― Robert Frost
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
― Yoko Ono