Contemplation on Age and Two Photos

I’m sixty-two. That officially qualifies me as a senior citizen, though I don’t feel old at all. I still do the things I used to, though I admit I’m more careful so I don’t slip and break something. Yeah, I consider the possibility now when before, it never occurred to me.

There were many reasons why I left MN for FL, and one of them was because the last winter I was there, I slipped on ice twice and both times, it hurt, and I wondered if I’d broken something. The weird thing is, over twenty years ago, I slipped on a deck step, twisted in mid-air so I wouldn’t land on my back and possibly cripple myself forever, and hit the edge hard on one butt cheek. Stunned, I half-lay there for a bit in the snow, waiting for the pain to ebb, then I forced myself up and into the car so I wouldn’t be late for a job. I cleaned houses back then for extra money, and by the time I arrived, I was capable of pushing a vacuum and scrubbing a floor. To this day, there is a slight dent in that ass cheek.

That was a harder fall than the ones I took a few months ago, but the truth is, spills happen more frequently as you age, so why take chances? When I rock climb, I now test every step before taking it. I focus on what I’m doing so I don’t do anything stupid. I still push myself, but within reason. I feel like a wimp most of the time, but if it saves me a broken bone or two, I’ll do it. 

I’ve been considering my mortality lately, wondering how long I have to live and whether I’ll spend several years in a home somewhere before I breathe my last. Here comes some more truth about my life: my parents are alive but both are being cared for by medical professionals. My dad suffered a series of strokes that took away most of his brain, and a couple weeks before I left MN, my mother had one that paralyzed her on one side. The UPS man found her lying in the driveway. No one knows how long she’d been there.

What happened to them scares the shit out of me. Maybe not so much what happened to Dad, ’cause he’s happy enough on his mood-elevating pills and watching movies all day, but having a sharp mind and not being able to communicate in other than garbles and mumbles? Being cared for around the clock while inside, you fume and curse and wish yourself dead? ‘Cause I know that woman. She’s a bitch–always has been–and that’s what she’s thinking. Either that or, “I hate you all!”

That’s why I made up a loving, supportive mother. I didn’t have one. The only time I made her happy was when I was living my life the way she wanted me to, and that hardly ever happened. Everything I did was wrong, every choice was bad, and she never let me forget it. At least the stroke quieted her voice so I don’t have to hear it anymore.

I’m terrified I’m going to end up like one of them and be all alone.

Shouldn’t quality of life mean more than longevity? No one wants to end up sitting in dirty diapers, staring at blank gray walls, surrounded by the collective misery of the aged. This is bad if you are unaware. If you are aware, this has to be the epitome of hell.

Have you thought about the end of your life? What do you see?

_______

Last week, I swam at R’s after dark. I took some pics. The first one is of the fairy on the lanai bar, all lit up. Blue Fairy 8.17.14 sm

He has statues all over the house. I think this one is pretty, and illuminated by lights… gorgeous. She has two strings on her, but one wasn’t working. Perhaps that was fortuitous.

Even though it was a hot night, R turned on the fire. This particular firepit (below) cost about $400, but when I said I’d like one that was smaller, he generously gave me one I will use in my courtyard when it gets cold. It’s exactly the right size. Wine by the fire 8.17.14 sm

I was using one of the plastic wine glasses, perfect for the pool area. Glass near the water is dangerous. Can you imagine trying to fish out tiny shards from a full pool? Uh, no.

Have a great holiday weekend! I won’t be back until Tuesday.

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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38 Responses to Contemplation on Age and Two Photos

  1. Your mother sounds a lot like mine. She always told me what I wanted to do. (And I usually did it to keep from being ‘spanked’). Two things I wish I’d fought her on were – “You don’t want to take Spanish. You’ll never need it.” and “What you want to do is give up band and take Office Practice so if something happens to your husband, you’ll have something to fall back on to make a living.” (of course that was her generation talking).

    Of course, I also ‘wanted’ to leave home three days after high school graduation and move 100 miles away so I could get a job – I was just a bit over 17. I think when she died in January, my daughter-in-law who never met her was more broken up than I was.

    • It took me years to realize I didn’t like my mother. She was always an adversary, never a parent or friend. It was like she got up every morning saying, “What can I do to screw with her life today?” And then she did it. (When I tried to tell her I was gender fluid, etc., she blew it off, totally ignored it as something she refused to hear.)

      She was a hateful person, a racist and a bigot who couldn’t stand anyone not exactly like her, so you can imagine why she didn’t take to me. Even though my dad provided well for her most of her life–summer cabin, car of her own, and once he retired, trips around the world and then a place in Palm Springs and one in MN–she relentlessly focused on what she didn’t have and how she wanted to be wealthy. Like, 1% wealthy. She was rich and never knew it, and I felt so sorry for my father once I was old enough to realize how awful she was. I still wonder why he stayed with her. I wouldn’t have.

      When she dies, I will not care. Once I left MN, I made the break I’d been attempting for years. She’s dead to me already.

  2. Jaycee Edward says:

    Most definitely have thought about this. An awful lot in the past few weeks, actually.

    • I go in phases. Maybe I’ll have a particularly bad headache and suddenly wonder if it’s precipitating a stroke. 😦 Unlike the parents, I’ve not had medical insurance most of my life, so I’ve ignored almost everything that’s gone wrong with me physically (and mentally) and waited until it got better, which it usually did.

      It’s like playing Russian roulette: the gun is pointed at my head, and I click… and this time, it’s an empty chamber. But next time?

      • Jaycee Edward says:

        I have insurance. I just prefer to ignore things. I have too much medical knowledge and I usually know what’s wrong long before I go.

  3. Aniko says:

    I do sometimes think about my twilight years. I don’t have kids, I don’t have a partner and I only have a couple of good friends who live near me, both of whom are older than me. I worry about being completely alone. I do have younger sisters, but who knows where life will end up taking them? One has already been living half way around the world for the last several years.

    Have a great weekend. I believe it’s a long one for you guys over there.

  4. Lisa B. says:

    I do think about this a lot. My father lived to 84, my mother 92. Both sets of grandparents were in their 90s when they passed. None of them, save my father who died suddenly from a stroke, were able to care for themselves the last several years of their lives and needed around the clock care. Longevity is not all it’s cracked up to be.

    I am the youngest of 12 children so chances are I will outlive all my siblings. Like Aniko, I have no kids and no partner. I have a very dear friend who is half my age and he promises to see me to the end but who wants to be a burden on anyone.

    My greatest fear 25 years ago was dying alone. Now it’s dying in one of those nursing homes my grandparents ended up in.

  5. Allison says:

    My mother had her first heart attack at 46 and died at 57 from an unrelated and undiagnosed illness, my father died at 62. It doesn’t give me a good feeling about my chances of living late into life although they both smoked heavily for most of their lives and ate almost nothing but red meat. Mostly when I worry about it though I worry about my husband and what it will do to him, we have been together for almost 26 years now and I’ve seen what happens to people when they lose their long-term partners, it’s seldom easy for them. Having lost my mother suddenly after a long illness and lost my father unexpectedly I can say that I’d rather die suddenly than live with a prolonged illness, there is nothing good about that for anyone involved.

    I love the fairy picture it has the perfect mood for a fairy picture.

    Have a wonderful weekend, Fen.

    • I was surprised at how well it came out. For handheld night pics, my Canon takes three photos in rapid succession, then somehow combines the best of them all into one photo. I need some light, but overall, it works really well.

      • Allison says:

        Is that a setting on the camera? I don’t think my Nikon has anything like that but I’ll have to look.

        • Yeah, a setting. I didn’t want a DSLR because of the added expense of buying so many lenses, so I stick with a high-end “prosumer” model, which offers various settings, along with manual choices. This way I also only have to carry the camera, not a case full of other stuff. 😉

      • Allison says:

        Makes sense, some days I wish I didn’t have so much to carry even though I love my camera.

        • Oh, DSLRs tempt me, no doubt about it! They can do things my Canon can’t, and I admit to drooling over one in particular… but it isn’t high on my priority list right now. Paying off the car is #1, so I can reclaim that monthly payment!

  6. Patricia says:

    Theo, I too am in my sixties and ponder these end-of-life questions when I can bear to face them. We acquired a safety net of sorts in recent years, so the future isn’t looking so gloomy. I’m sixty-five, my husband is sixty-three and covered 100% by the VA as a disabled veteran. Now I’ve come under that umbrella too for the past few years, and it’s been great to have insurance after many years without. We had great insurance in the past. The VA insurance helped get me the best care for my heart and now I have a pacemaker. It changed my life. Perhaps you can ease your fears by designating a close friend to be your executor who will handle your care if you become ill. I would like to mention, here in Florida, I was given a grant to pay for my entire cancer treatment 11 years ago, this came through a hospital financial office. That was when my husband’s salary was lower than we’d had in the past, though he was working full time then. By the way…parents. We struggle. My Mom is a cheerful, hard-working pessimist and we live in her home. My Dad passed eight years ago, and the old grouch is someone I miss a lot now. I am my father’s daughter. I have been writing a bit about him, it’s difficult. I like to remember the golden moments when he was clear headed and full of life.He was an older, more sedate parent as he was 35 when I was born. Advantages and disadvantages. He was lucky to see his grandchildren for some years. Now I have three extremely young grandkids (my friends’ grandkids are adults) and I look at my mortality more. Good luck, Theo, keep looking for resources in Florida.

    • AJ has consented to act on my behalf in some things, and I’m grateful for that. I just don’t want to end up in one of “those places,” and it seems that’s all there are unless you are wealthy. 😦 Yet another area where money makes all the difference.

  7. You know, of course, that if you ever need anything, I will be there in a flash. I may not be there with you right this minute, but I am always with you in my thoughts. As you now we go for ages without talking, and then we get together and it is like we just saw each other yesterday.

  8. Lindsaysf says:

    My father died when he was 51 after 8 years of strokes & progressive brain damage. He was cared for a home. Yuck. My mother died at 80 after 20 years of Alzheimers, more than half of which was spent somewhat comatose. double yuck. At least she was in a life care facility. I didn’t like her, but she wasn’t a bad person. Sort of a flaky party girl, which can be fun in a friend, but not in a mother. I’ve been looking at end-of-life options – life care homes, homes with independent living & assisted living, nursing homes. The life care home here is posh – feels too much like a gated community for my taste. Besides I’d have to get a tiny place to afford it and cut way back. And they take tons of $ up front. (Not all do)
    I like that there are now organizations I can hire to keep on eye on me and be there to arrange help if I need it. The one here is run by someone I knew back in the AIDS days so I went over to talk to him. He pointed out that as us boomers are aging, this is an growing industry – in 10 years there will probably be many more options.
    For all the time I’ve known him, Richard has been in fear of getting Alzheimers – and he has the genetic precursor – so while he talks about taking care of me, I’m not counting on that.
    My own wish is drop gracefully dead being hugged by a certain handsome actor! 🙂

  9. suze294 says:

    gosh yes, taking care does come when you get older – I do a bit of mountain biking (will do until I cant any more) and those downhill rocky slopes have me slamming the brakes on as I know it will hurt if I come off (let alone, who will run the house/kids to school etc type issues) – though conversely if you go faster, the bike can be steadier – head and heart are not communicating!!

    having just had to get my 92yo mother in law into a residential home (not even nursing), I am hoping to go peacefully in my sleep when my number is up

    love the fairy photo!

    • After Suki dies, I’ll be ready, and going in my sleep sounds perfect. 🙂 That happened to my uncle. He laid down for an afternoon nap and never got up again. Very peaceful.

  10. Helena Stone says:

    My mother died when she was 53 from a brain aneurysm. It was completely unexpected and a devastating blow. But, after some time had passed we realized it was what she would have wanted. Only a week before she died my mother and father had met a couple they used to know in a museum. One of them was in a wheelchair being pushed around by the other. My mother actually said to my father ‘I never want to be that dependent on you or anyone else’.

    I’m the same. I have been as close to death as you can come without actually dying and I have experienced a lot of the embarrassment resulting from a failing body. While it taught me that those situations can be survived I do not want to go through it again. I’ve decided and informed D & T that if I’m ever diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I will kill myself. And I keep my Dutch passport so that nobody will be able to stop me from leaving Ireland if I ever need professional assistance to end it all.

    I just realized how incredibly cold all of that sounds, but it is the way I feel. While I hope to live for a good while yet I’m not afraid of death. I am however very afraid of losing all my independence and/or sanity.

    On a lighter note. Those pictures are gorgeous and I love that fire. It won’t be long before we’ll be lighting the fireplace in the living room up again. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Doesn’t sound cold at all. Anyone who does not contemplate the end of life isn’t being reasonable. It’s going to happen and we have to prepare for it as best we can. I certainly want a few more years in order to write more books, see more things, enjoy more of life, but if I went tomorrow, the only thing I’d worry about is Suki. Otherwise, I’ve lived a pretty good life so far. In fact, the last two decades have been the best of it, and I’ve accomplished every goal and realized every dream I’ve ever had. Can’t beat that!

  11. Jaycee Edward says:

    I had the worlds best mom. I know other people I’ll say they did, but they’re wrong. Haha. Everyone who met my mom adored her. The problem with having an awesome mom is it’s so fucking hard to lose her. I miss her every single day. I miss my dad too, but when my mom passed, it left a hole that will never be filled. I’d like to think I’ll grow old and be spunky just like her, but I’m my fathers daughter and I’m pretty sure I’ll end up more like him: not overly fond of people and pretty much introverted. Since my hubby is eighteen years older, my stepdaughters are basically my age. I sometimes wonder if/when something happens to my husband, if they will cut their ties with me. They swear they never would, but I’ve seen it happen too many times. If they do, that’ll leave me pretty much alone. Maybe all us kidless people should start making plans to at least go to the SAME home. At least we’d have each other. And wine.

    • 🙂 I think one should be allowed to be a wino if one is sitting in a home, waiting to die.

      • Jaycee Edward says:

        One of the higher-end places here locally actually has happy hour. Well, they call it “Cocktail Hour”, but the residents are welcome to meet in this pretty little sitting area and they serve them cocktails for that one hour.

  12. Jinai says:

    Write many more please. I selfishly enjoy your writing and your photos. This is the enjoyment that I have and helps me face putting my own very controlling Mother into assisted living. She was the best and very worst for me. Thank you for giving me a place to be happy! 🙂

  13. CA James says:

    I think about what comes next used to a lot. The thought has disturbed me for years. I’m in my early 40s. I came to realize I was fixated on death in part b/c I feel like I haven’t done my * thing * yet (whatever that is) & I’m afraid of dying before i know what that thing is. It’s ok; I still don’t know yet but I’m living w/not knowing & waiting. In part, this is the reason I like your work- for the life in it, and why I admire you. Your coming out is inspiring.

  14. diannegray says:

    You can’t choose your family and it annoys me when people say ‘that’s your mother, you MUST love her.’ Mothers are people like everyone else and they can be absolute ratbags. Then they get old and frail and expect everyone to swoon over them and look after them (am I sounding bitter? lol)
    I haven’t thought about aging and living in a nursing home because I guess it’s just too much to bear thinking about. I try to just live each day without the foreboding of future days casting a shadow. I don’t think 62 is old (I’m almost there myself). I try and keep fit by working on the RUC and some days I think ‘I’m just too old for this shit!’ – but something keeps me going. When I find out what it is I’ll let you know xxx

    • I always appreciate it when you drop by, Dianne. 🙂 Yeah, Mom was a ratbag (great name for her!), and she said out loud she wanted me to wait on her and paint her nails and blah blah blah. Well, that kind of love is earned. It doesn’t come to you just because you want it. If she’d treated me better, things would be different.

      I felt guilt over my feelings toward her for many years. I’m good with it now.

  15. W. Lotus says:

    I think about my mortality probably more than I should. But it forces me to learn how to be grateful for what I can do while I can do it, so I guess that hyper-awareness isn’t all bad.

    Your mother as you describe her sounds horrible. I’m glad you are forging your own path.

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