On aging, and gradually disappearing

10 11 2016

432af0eea731d117bf5ac6181eea87abI missed my 40th high school reunion this past weekend. I was sorry not to see the gang, the people who had known me BEFORE – people who might have the memories I have lost over the years, the ones I dig for but can’t retrieve, unless I have them in photographs.

I’ve lost the old times, but now, since my MS has led me to retire early, I am seemingly losing form and shape of more recent years. I have people explain things to me as if I didn’t know about them – as if I hadn’t led a life of great activity in the work world, short though it was.

It’s hard when you see grey-haired, frazzled old me to imagine what I used to be – a nurse in a burn unit; a prenatal teacher; a home visiting nurse who saw people in dirt-floored houses; a campaigner for the NDP; an initiator of programs to benefit people’s health; a published writer and advocate; the woman who writes for Amnesty every year; the one who studied health policy amongst the socialists of the LSE and epidemiology amongst a team of students from around the world through the LSHTM. Someone who has travelled the world and read about places, read thousands of books, made hundreds of creative things, met with and engaged with thousands of people, one to one or in small groups, working to effect change for the positive.

Nope, people see me, the gal with the big words, the round tummy, the uncontrollable cartoon-happy-smiling-old-lady-senior-citizen-pink-dress-46821182hair.

I sometimes feel like screaming, “Look, look! It’s ME in here!” But, realistically, this happens to us all. I have a good friend whose life has led him all over Africa and to the depths of New Brunswick. I cherish the well-roundedness this life has given his thoughts and opinions. But to the outside, he is an older man, retired. He and I shuffle together. No one knows what fierce hearts beat or have beaten under our admittedly aging skins.

I have wonderful other friends whose lives would fill a book with adventures, but whose adventures I barely know, taken up as we are with the day to day lives of now. There’s a hesitancy in sharing as life experiences are so different, and what may just be talking may sound like bragging. I’ve had a privileged life; many others haven’t.

One of my sons worked on a project to go with people as they transitioned from home to care. It would tell the caregivers who that person was, how they liked their tea, what their background was, so they wouldn’t have to tell everyone over and over again what they did or were or valued. It would be like a much more informative nametag.

I like that idea, but the question is, who would read it? Would the busy care workers care that I once ran for the NDP nomination? Would they want to know about my poverty needs assessments that guided the development of services in Kingston, ON? Would they care that I change my preference for tea from time to time? Probably not.

And so we age and gradually diminish, becoming creatures of the present.

Unless. Unless we don’t go quietly into that good night. Unless we stick our necks out, risk things, do something new. Thats my plan.

the-powerpuff-girls

My heroes. AKA the Persistently Annoyed

I feel like Rhoda Morgenstern on the old old TV show, who shouted, “New York, this is your last chance!” Time for me to throw my hat in the air, and even if it falls to the ground, pick it up and keep on going.

 

 

Advertisements




New Year, new days, no mistakes yet…

2 01 2015

Well, not strictly true. It’s difficult for a gal like me to get through a day without a mistake or two. I almost set fire to my hot bag today, for example. I’ve given mixed signals to a friend. Promised myself I wouldn’t do that. But I did.

Fortunately, I have other things to write about besides self-blame. I was given a “Forgotten English” calendar for Christmas (Jeff Kacirk’s, see Amazon…)

6033113062_1ab2b8da21_z The first word for the year was so appropriate I have to talk about it. It is baubosking, which apparently makes reference to the straying of cattle or sheep from the pasture assigned to them.

I love that there is a word for such straying. I think this may be a good year for us all to stray a bit, step outside our comfort zone, be seen where we normally wouldn’t be expected, step out and be heard, create discomfort, ask questions. It’s an election year here in Canada. Time to wander into the pastures of unfamiliar organizations, find what is important, munch down on policies we haven’t yet explored.

We spent much of 2014 hearing bad news. Maybe it’s time to leave that pasture, too, look at the good things, FIND the good things, in ourselves and others. Maybe the grass is really greener outside the fence of bad news and media reports.

It’s also been all about sexual harassment in 2014, too. Let’s jump that fence, shall we? Let’s expect men to behave like human beings, let’s hold those that don’t meet that expectation accountable. Let’s pull together, men and women, to ensure respectful treatment for everyone, of all ages. It takes so little to be polite, so little to hold open a door to contact, so little to be well-behaved. Let’s not hide behind bureaucracy and work and puttering and buying and eating to numb the feelings that would make us stand up and offer support and help to others.

I’m eying the pasture gate, myself. Not sure which way I’ll head, but I’ll be stepping out. Want to join me?

Peak_District_Animals_-_Sheep_2We can do it.





How will I know?

27 01 2014

images-14Oh, sometimes I hate being a grownup.

See, when you’re a kid, you can spend hours gazing off into the distance and dreaming romantic dreams of life with your dreamboat, think about hours spent together, laughing as you walk along some mountain trail or canoeing down some whitewater river together. I remember spending hours and hours just envisioning a kiss. His hand would come around the back of my head, we’d gaze meaningfully into each other’s eyes, and we’d touch lips, gently, warmly together. No tongues. Thrilling!

When you get a little older, you can whisk up some dreams of families and homes with picket fences and Christmases together and warmth and cuddles. You think about joint trips to the hardware store, hanging lighting, renovating a house, camping, toasting marshmallows. Tongues might be involved. And other parts.

And then you get to an advanced age and realize the chances of whitewater rafting with your love approximate zero since neither of you wants to risk the injuries. Families are done, grandchildren dance offstage, waiting for entrance and attention. Cuddling is great provided it isn’t every night since, after all, a good sleep is sometimes better than sex and requires less energy. And legs kick and nasal passages snore and the elegance of sleeping together lacks something when one of you is hot flashing and the other is sucking in the walls a la Yosemite Sam. Hardware stores lose their appeal when you decide neither of you should get up a ladder. Camping? Ugh. Getting up to find a toilet in the dark and bugs and damp? Never. Love is in the simple things: the newspaper, the cup of coffee in bed, the back rub at the end of a long day.

And still, if you are dating, you find yourself reverting to the kid you once were. Does he like me? Does she think I’m handsome? Will he still like me tomorrow? Will we have anything in common? Should I call him? Should I write to her? Am I being too clingy/demanding/honest/deceptive? What about that errant nose hair? You’d think we’d have this down by now.

Is the effort all worth it?

Somehow, after years of being in loving relationships, I still don’t know how to judge them, if my feelings are real or false, if they are being straight with me or leading me on.

I don’t really care. Life’s too short for endless analysis. I want to feel while I can feel. Sing while I can sing. And dance the dance while my feet still know the steps. And if I end up alone at the end of the party, well, there are always the joys of solitude.

http://youtu.be/0hWwJLM4ZEo





Happy Birthday to me…

23 11 2012

So, here I be, 54 and counting. According to my family’s average, I have around 6 good years left. Everyone seems to have either died at 60-ish or made it to well over 80. I’m going for option two.
Or so I hope.
Why? I’ve accomplished quite a lot in my humble life. I’m still waiting for a published book, but other than that, most of my life goals have been met.
The only problem is that the longer I live, the more I want of it. My kids are now fascinating adults – I find myself stretching to keep up with their intellectual capacities. They have charming companions, who I enjoy tremendously and adore.
Late in life, I’ve met the perfect man for me – kind, loving, attentive and totally sweet. He makes me wish I could read romances without snorting.
Now, if only I could manage my pain. Ever since I heard that over half our support group didn’t have pain with their MS I have felt positively bitter that I have it. I want to trade my MS in for a less annoying version. But then I don’t know what that would look like. And it might be worse.
In any case, I do feel grateful. For the years I’ve lived, the experiences I’ve had, the wonderful people I’ve had the chance to know, the places I’ve seen.
Anything further is just gravy.
But I do like gravy…





I thought you were dead!

9 01 2012

It’s funny how the expressions you hear change when you see someone you haven’t seen for a long time.

Things shift from “You look great!” (even voice) to “you look GREAT!” (surprised voice) to “you look …great!” (artificially bright voice). It’s all in the diphthongs, which, contrary to popular belief are not how you describe those underwear you wear when they are trapped in an uncomfortable place. Although those can cause upward diphthongs, true.

There’s the query shift from “How’s work?” to “Still working?” to “STILL working????”, and “When’s the wedding?” to “Still married?” to “Still married, eh.”

There’s “How are the kids?” to “The kids at school yet?” to “Got grandkids yet?” to “How are the grandkids?”

My hair went grey when I was in my late 30s. Once I took my wee group of kids (youngest was 4) to church and was invited to join the line dancing group. I explained I couldn’t line dance. The sweet woman said, “Oh, that’s no problem – all you have to do is be over 50 and you’re welcome!”

I blame the hair care industry and the fact that women colour their hair until they are 107 and shrivelled into husks. People seem to assume that I, even with my young face and unshrivelled body (alas), am a centenarian just because I don’t dye my hair. Somehow, naturally grey hair is wrong, while  glaringly brassy red hair or gothic black hair is fine after fifty.

I met a long missed auntie once and she told me flat-out she wasn’t going to tell anyone she’d seen me with my hair “all grey like that.” I loved her. Outspoken, yes. Tactful, not so much.

But you know life is starting to get grim when someone says “Wow! I thought you were dead!” like the person I overheard in the coffee shop the other day. To a sixty-ish-looking guy…

I haven’t heard that one, but with my lack of communication with folks as I try to rope myself into my novel and writing, I feel sure I’ll hear it, soon.

Provided someone sees me. I think I’ll just hide for a few years yet.

 





insomnia…

21 12 2011

It’s a rare thing for me. Sleep and I spend a lot of time together, usually. We enjoy each other’s company.

I’m awake because my body is telling me it is alternately in the tropics and then in the freezer. I shiver, pull the covers over, sweat, shiver, sweat.

It is, of course, my fault. Today at breakfast I bragged about how menopause had seemingly passed me by without too much trouble. I denied hot flashes, talked about how I have only had one, and how my hormones seem to be taking it easy on me. I actually commented about how it was important to just ignore it and move on.

Once again, hubris, and the subsequent punishment. I could just scream at how quickly the gods note when I feel even vaguely superior to anything and then pound me into the dust.

Anyone would think they were trying to teach me a lesson.

It’s like when I used to go roller skating. I would finally get my sea legs in the large roller skating rinks I actually grew up with (yes, I am that old – the skates even had FOUR WHEELS! EACH!!). I’d stagger around the rink, limping for time after time, trying to control my uncoordinated body, and then I’d get it. My body would cooperate, and I’d have five glorious seconds of sailing along, graceful at last. I’d just start to think about how beautiful I must look. Poetry in motion, I’d think. Just before I smashed into THE MOST DESIRABLE boy in the 8th grade, knocking him into the prettiest girl and both of them and me into the boards.

Even the mirror ball and pounding music couldn’t save me.

Biking, the same. Finally got to the point where I could bike with grace and charm, but if I ever let that thought enter my head, I could guarantee I’d hit a rock, shuffle sideways, fling myself onto the ground.

It’s not like I am a proud person. I wouldn’t say I was exactly humble, and maybe that’s what gets the gods annoyed, but, goshdarnit – can’t I maintain some modicum of self-respect?

Apparently not. So here I sit, at 4 AM, researching why my parrotlet has suddenly taken to pulling out her chest feathers (hormones could be to blame there, too), and alternately wrapping and unwrapping myself while I listen to international news about disasters happening everywhere.

Again with the lessons. Even at this hour I am reminded that my little problems are so small given what others are coping with. I give up. I’m off to bed, having found some yummy bird food recipes, and isolated why she may be freaking out. But only “may”. Gods forbid I might feel competent!

All I can say is it’s a darn good thing those gods aren’t hanging about nearby. Because there’s one aspect of this menopause thing I have down pat. I can mood swing wilder than anyone I’ve met.  It’s like my body is pushing me on the swings. Poetry in motion. Really.

 








Multiple Sclerosis Research Blog

A blog for people affected by Multiple Sclerosis. Interpreting good, bad and other research news

Destination Humanity

Chasing big dreams one photo at a time

Ingridphilipp's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

*UNBREAKABLE QUEEN'S LIFE LESSONS DIARY*

Breaking Free From The Past, In Hope For A Bigger & Brighter Future

Christ a poet

one word at a time

%d bloggers like this: