Hasn’t It All Been Said Already?

My Life is getting old. Not just the years that have accumulated but the scenarios in my past and present, future too. If it’s not just one calamity after another, it’s another gross disappointment or health issue and the black cloud  that looms above us. Circling us like black hawks over newly killed animals waiting to swoop down excited to eat.

Black Hole Sun

Black Hole Sun (Photo credit: amira_a)

Yes, dear optimistic people, I do try so hard to project a positive image, I send healing thoughts and love to the Universe, I pray for good things for all and not just myself, I try to make a positive difference in the world in any small way I can. I smile, I care, I reach out, I do good deeds, willingly, lovingly.

What happens? Nothing much. If I can make someone laugh or smile that’s a definite plus, if I can offer an elderly person my arm to cross the street or to carry their grocery bags, that’s great, I feel good for a second. Then, that feeling goes away.

Day # 8

Day # 8 (Photo credit: .Nena.)

Poof.

Doing nice things is not the answer, I know, feeling good things will happen, is sure part of it but I’ve felt that for so long it is tiring me out. I have tried that approach for many, many months and I am burned out. I am  exhausted, hoping, that life will take a turn for the better.

Here we sit, my brown pillow and in the house on a sunny day, lying on the bed with no energy.  I could be doing many things but I have no energy, no will, just an overwhelming feeling of tiredness. I’m taking comfort in hiding, resting and blaming my Fibromyalgia for all that ails me and so much more.

 

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The Age We Are

We all age. It’s one thing, like death, we cannot change. In time, we need to accept the inevitable. We all get older and as scary as it sounds it is going to happen whether we like it or not. At some point, kicking or screaming or both we need to find peace within ourselves to accept our new, old age, our new lifestyle, that WE are now considered old.

thanks for old friends

thanks for old friends (Photo credit: Steve took it)

The trick to getting comfortable with your age? I have no idea. Once in a while I become a nervous wreck thinking about it. It usually only lasts about ten minutes at a time but when it hits it doesn’t feel good at all. Like now:

How did I get to be this old? I don’t understand. Wasn’t I just seven walking up the big hill to get to my elementary school wondering about how it would feel being old? I distinctly remember the comfort that I would not get old alone, that the friends around me who were the same age would get older too.

Junior high was a blur, it wasn’t the best time but it wasn’t the worse. It was something you had to go through to live another day. Students bothering you for your lunch money, dark hallways, new friends. Dreary, fenced in cement playground.

Then, I fell in love with high school, my sister went away to college and a new me was born. As my parents said “I blossomed.”  I adored high school, I was at school more than I was at home, in every club imaginable. Writing clubs, The New York Club, Yearbook Club, Acting, Jabberwocky Club (a magazine I, unfortunately named.)

Didn’t I go straight from there to college, when it snowed on October 2nd and finally got warm at the end of the semester for a few days and we played frisbee and sat in the sun? We had a cat named Boz.Those four years went by so quickly, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology. Parties, crushes, and one ugly hangover.

After that I was single, independent, living in my apartment in New York City, working at a good job, moved to Boston on a whim, I thought my friend Matthew was moving there, made a really good salary, convinced I would never meet a guy. I had a short romance or two. The next step was meeting a guy that for the first time I didn’t get tired of after twenty minutes.

My first love. My always love. We got married, we moved, we tried to have children to no avail and then (thank you G-d ) I got pregnant and what a miracle that was! We were blessed that after two and a half years of painful, intrusive infertility treatments, our son was born. When our son was one, we were thrilled and excited to be naturally expecting another child, another miracle, a beautiful blonde, blue-eyed daughter. I give thanks for my family every single night. That’s what love is.

If I had to pick a time when I was the happiest, THAT was the best time of my life, that time period when I was first pregnant with my son and then ecstatically with my daughter.

Luckily, we have our memories, at least most of them. Photographs too can fill in the spaces that time captured. We can all get scared of being older, it’s natural but here’s something that you can do to help: find other people you trust, and talk. It doesn’t matter what age they are. Pick up the phone, make a lunch date, reach out. Stay in touch with old friends, make some new friends. You will feel better. I assure you, you both will.

 

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What, Exactly, Is Happiness?

Rice pudding bowl

Rice pudding bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought the  rice pudding that my husband bought me from the diner would make me happy but it just made me feel momentarily content. Twice. Now, there’s only one small portion left from the giant trough that he brought home on Sunday night. One, huge, tub of home-made rice pudding, the Reddi Whip had already melted, making it look like a floating swan on water, peaceful, gliding, making no trouble at all. A sensory satisfaction of taste.

It appeared to be a raisin and cinnamon revolution. Rice pudding with no raisins and no cinnamon? I was briefly unnerved but it was so tasty, rich, sweet and creamy that I really couldn’t complain. Tonight, the last night, I added my own raisins and cinnamon. For my tasting pleasure, now it is gone.

I need strength to feel settled tonight. I’m scared, there are just too many potential problems for too many people going on in the next three months. I’m much better when the time is NOW than weeks ahead of time but inside I know I am freaking out. Trembling as my bones quiver from the inside out, shaking so that anyone who knows me can see.

Too many people I love are sick at the same time. I am feeling at an all time low, physically and emotionally. My shoulders ache, the pain in my back still digs into me, not letting go or it moves to surprise me, to the side. Poke, Stab, Poke. Winter, does not just weigh heavily on the branches of the naked tree limbs but also on my tightened shoulders that lock in place; it takes hours for the heating pad to barely loosen them. I’ve tried the steamy hot baths, bath salts…nothing helps.

Maybe, I should just give up on Winter. This year, I was promised that I  could go to someplace warm to soothe my aching bones and muscles, and again, another lay off. No one’s fault. It’s just the way the world works these days. Trust no one. You are not safe.

Protect Yourself.

What is happiness, anyway?

It’s elusive.

A distant memory, aging photographs, some distinct thoughts of the past. Maybe it’s age or money or just a state of mind. I can’t seem to see it at the moment….

If I don’t have it, it doesn’t mean I don’t want YOU to have it, it just makes me a little sad to see those with luck, get luckier and those who are down on their luck, stay there and go deeper under the icy cold, black abyss.

My real friends understand, I don’t need to tell them I am hurting, they know. Or, if I mumble a quick “fine” or “I’m good” they will look into my eyes, the pathway to my soul and understand. THEY don’t look away. They stick with me through all days.

True Friendship.

True Friendship=Happiness

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Maybe “Safe” Is A Better Word Than “Stuck”

English: The Mother Orange Tree, the oldest li...

English: The Mother Orange Tree, the oldest living orange tree in Northern California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often refer to my husband and myself as Empty Nesters, stuck between two worlds. We still live in the home where we raised our children,  paying outrageous school taxes even though both kids are in college. My mother and sister both live nearby and my husband’s parents live close by as well. But, I know, deep inside, this is not where I want to end up for the rest of our lives.  I’m sure you have heard the term  “The Sandwich Generation” before, it defines us as it does most of the aging “Baby Boomers.” I shudder when I even think of the term “Aging Boomers.” Us? Really?

I have wanted to move to the West Cost for a long time since I was a kid and my dad mentioned he had a possible job interview in California. For someone who is not good with change, I was so excited about the prospect.  I imagined a little white house and garden with bright red flowers on the boarders, an orange tree in the back yard and a red dog named Rusty.

Here, in the Northeast the weather is too cold and I’ve always hated cold weather. For those of you who enjoy the cold and love its sparkling freshness, enjoy it. For all you skiers out there, have a great time racing down those sleek, icy hills, I would be in the chalet drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream anyway. The cold weather makes me hurt all over in general and  living with the chronic pain illness, Fibromyalgia, the cold, bone-chilling weather makes my bones and muscles hurt even more. There is nothing I can do about that except accept it.

I admit, I used to feel closed in not knowing when and where we would move in the future but now it feels alright, in fact it feels safe. Chaos will surely occur if there is any major change and for someone like me, change is always hard. For me, ” A Good Change” is an oxymoron. For little things, I need 24-48 hours to get used to change that is even mildly disturbing, imagine a huge change? The mere thought of moving away from my sister and mother brings tears to my eyes. My children will come visit when they can, it is their turn to live now. So maybe being “stuck” is not so bad, maybe being stuck is just being “safe.” If I look at it that way,  I’m doing alright. Actually, pretty good. I’m enjoying nature in the suburbs, the sweet red cardinals chirping in the trees, the changing of the leaves, the different seasons. Change will happen by itself, there are things we can’t control, health, employment, our children moving away, us moving away, sickness, death. Life brings us one change after another, so right now where we are “stuck” is really a time to rest and appreciate. Whatever comes next, will be very, very different; we will get used to it in time but it won’t be easy to call that place home with all the pieces in the puzzle fitting right into place for a long time. I’m just going to appreciate what I have now, not look backwards and not look forwards, be in the present. Sounds good, right? I’m trying the best that I can.

a drawing of a 4 piece jigsaw puzzle

a drawing of a 4 piece jigsaw puzzle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Carry on Tuesday: In youth we learn; in age we understand

Fred Carian

Fred Carian (Photo credit: carianoff)

Charles and I were married for 53 years before he passed, alone, in the Alzheimer’s wing of the nursing home.  I am now living in my daughter Kaitlin’s house; I don’t want to be here and I’m sure they feel the same. I don’t blame them. I’m mourning more the loss of my  independence than my husband. I’m 93 and I’ve had enough. It is time for me to die.

Charles and I raised our family in Maine, we were “tough old birds” our children used to say.  But, life brings us nothing but surprises, change found us when we weren’t looking. We were getting older, Charles had gotten himself into a car accident, they took his license away, things were very different now.

We put our house up for sale, even though our children were upset, Charles insisted on moving to Independent Living. I didn’t want that but I had no choice. Not back in those days.

We lived first in Harrison House. It was a white building with a lovely garden. Charlie and I used to sit and admire the pink tulips and the big red rose bush. warm season. When Charles was still well and he could walk, with a cane, he would steal a red rose and give it to me. I would be scared he would get caught but he would just laugh and say “Heck, we’re payin’ for it”and we would laugh. When it got cold we would still be in the sun, with our puffy, blue jackets and our red plaid wool blanket on our laps.

After several months I noticed Charles acting a bit odd but I ignored it. He had just had his accident fairly recently and really what isn’t odd in old age? We forgot things, we misplace things. Getting old is nobody’s friend. I would cover for him when the children came to visit. We taught our children to be strong so I had to be strong, until I couldn’t anymore. I had hidden my feelings so long that they burst like the cold waters gushing out of the levees. Finally, I told them the things their dad was doing and they insisted their Dad see a neurologist. I postponed it twice. Finally, begrudgingly, our daughter Kaitlin forced us to go. She was with me when after all the tests, the doctor uttered the words: Moderate-Late Stage Alzheimer’s. Kaitlin gasped but I knew. I had always known.

He deteriorated rapidly. Once he got violent and struck me, they moved Charles to the nursing home in the Alzheimer’s wing next to where I lived. I stayed in our old room, alone. Charles recognized me once in a while and he would have a good few minutes on and off. The last time the grandchildren visited him he remembered them and I told their parents I did not want the grandchildren to ever come again. I wanted them to remember their grandpa as he was. A living memory. It was the least I could do.

Sometimes he would act like a baby other times he would throw things at me and and talk crazy. Who was this person?  I had difficulty remembering he was my Charlie but he wasn’t. He had completely forgotten who I was and would lash out at me, calling me “bitch woman” and calling me “evil.” “I’ve heard it said that in youth we learn, in age we understand but that’s not always the case. Oh no, not really. I made huge mistakes when I was old, more than when I was young. I pretended he was alright when I knew he wasn’t. I should have stuck up for myself like the girls do these days and  never have sold the darn house. I hadn’t learned a thing and I should have. I knew about Charlie’s illness long before the doctor diagnosed him but I refused to acknowledge it. Had I brought him to the doctor earlier he could have been on medicine to help him. I was an old fool, just a plain old fool. Getting old is the worst of your nightmares times ten thousand. Believe me, I know.

I used to have my life and oh, how I loved it. Independence is such a huge part of being alive, you may not realize that but it’s true. I can no longer drive. I stay in my daughter’s room, most times. On some Sundays, we visit the cemetery where we buried Charles. He was a fine man for many years and he had a terrible, terrible illness that changed him to someone else. I will always love that man I married but we buried a shell of a man who was not my husband. That was a completely different person, a stranger, that man was not my Charlie.

Haiku Heights – Pride

Old Couple

Old Couple (Photo credit: Up Your Ego)

Smiles brighten, eyes lit

Our sun, our kids, beam, sparkle

As we fade away

*

Old, wrinkles, deaf, pain

Hands, well-worn, lined with velvet

Earned gray, silver, hair.

*

We are all the same

A steady glance, a soft touch

Loving who we love.

Deutsch: Lesbische Zweisamkeit im Bett

Deutsch: Lesbische Zweisamkeit im Bett (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plinky Prompt: Write a letter to yourself in 20 years…

  • Letter to (Future) Me
  • What Did We Know?
    beach sunrise 1 Dear Old Lady,
    I want to live someplace simple and warm, with God’s Blessing, with my Old Man, beside me. It’s nice to grow old with someone and we are still lucky to have each other because many of our friends have lost their spouses. Sure, we have our health problems, who doesn’t? I’ve had them as long as I can remember so that’s not so hard for me to get used to but you and your ego, well, that was a little harder but we got through that tough time, didn’t we?.
    We moved to California when I finally put my foot down and said I could not TAKE these bitter cold winters in New York for my bones and muscles and you actually agreed with me. You even loved it when we sat on our deck and could see the ocean and the beach, not so close but it didn’t matter. It was nice and warm and I didn’t complain all the time, you joker. Now I complained just half the time! But, I really did feel better in the warm weather and you took up golf which you said you would never do.”Never say Never!”
    Our kids had kids of their own, just think we are grandparents, imagine that! I had wanted to be a granny since I was 50,and now I’m 76! What a feeling that is, seeing your son and daughter’s husband and wife and their precious children, Oh, I used to love holding them in my arms when they were little and singing them songs. My one regret is that they don’t live closer to us but they have to live their own lives and they can’t live for us, just like we couldn’t live for our mothers and fathers It’s a very hard decision, believe me, I know.
    We have friends here, but really, there is nothing like family. Oh, did I tell you? My sister and her husband moved a few blocks around the corner, shortly after we moved here. Their kids more scattered than ours but we all get together whenever we can and that is something to live for. All of us around a big table, imagine, we’re the grandparents now, who knew time would go by so fast?
    Appreciate every good day you have, life can be difficult but you will get through it.Don’t worry if you don’t have to. Just deal with things as they come your way. Most of all, just know I will always love my family, whenever I go, that’s the most important thing for people to know. I LOVED MY FAMILY and my husband and my kids were my whole life. That’s all I want to say.

Life, Not Made Easy

An elderly couple comfort each other- Part of ...

An elderly couple comfort each other- Part of Paul Ganuchaud’s relief depicting life behind the front-line being one of two reliefs which form the Fort Mahon Plage monument aux morts. Fort Mahon Plage is in the Somme region of France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m 55 years old and still battling the stomach bug I got yesterday. With me, you never know if I caught this from my daughter or if it’s one of Fibromyalgia’s side effects rearing its ugly horse head again. All I know is that what I wanted was to be ten again and for my mom to make me two soft-boiled eggs in a dish, with crumbled up pieces of toast and a pat of butter all mixed together. That’s what I wanted and I didn’t want to make it myself.

I am lucky enough that my mom is still alive and so I called her and told her how I was feeling. “I wish for that too” she said somberly, the effects of getting older weighing heavily on her these past few days. She worries about me and I worry about her, not that it makes any difference at all but it feels good to know someone cares. Life, since my father died has been very difficult for her, for all of us, but on certain days she is inconsolable. Her friends are dying or very sick and getting old “is no pleasure.”

When my husband left today to go back to Rochester for work I felt sad and I couldn’t prevent a tear or two from trickling down my face. It’s hard when he goes but it feels impossible when he goes and I’m really sick. I can handle most everything on my own, Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, but when I get a stomach flu on top of that? I fall apart. I feel vulnerable and scared and alone. This is the worst of Fibromyalgia for me, not the pain or the aches, I can deal with those because I am used to them. It’s when something unexpected comes up that is out of the norm, that’s when I crash and feel vulnerable and all I want to do is stay in my bed and cry.

Since we got the new puppy, it’s like having a toddler again, a biting, misbehaving toddler. I know she is young and will grow out of it but again, when I am not feeling well everything seems like so much of an effort. I’m sure friends would help if I asked them but I usually try to “save” my favors for important things. I’ve decided I’ll be better tomorrow, I have no other choice.

I’ve tried to accept life’s curve balls and I always needed 24 hours to get used to a new, bad, situation. I don’t think I have that luxury anymore. Bad things happen to most of us, except for a lucky few, and it seems like they are happening all the time. Was it always like this? I truly don’t believe so but maybe we were so young and naïve and having fun, we just didn’t notice.

Dog Lovers Unite!

an old man

Image by adm via Flickr

My sweet dog, Callie, is lying at the foot of the bed sleeping peacefully. She is nine years old yet she acts like a puppy, an older puppy. The other day when I took her for a walk a neighbor said “wow, he’s really gotten old, huh?” I am not a violent person but at that moment I wanted to club him. I was personally offended and wish I had responded with something like “well you look ancient too” but I was too shocked to answer. I told my daughter the story, she considers our dog “her baby” and she immediately hated the man for the same reason. Would I tell this person that he has aged considerably or that his son is a weed-smoking, drunken, troubled and nasty teenager?” Of course I wouldn’t(not that it isn’t tempting now.)

Of course, I know, my dog’s fur has changed from black to gray and white near her chin and adorable cheeks and she can’t jump as high in the snow as she used to jump. It’s called life, getting older, soon old man, you will not be able to walk as easily as you do now. Ever think of that? Perhaps you will need a little help in the future with a cane or a walker, I wouldn’t point that out to you, how dare you point that out to my dog? That’s just plain bad manners.

Older dogs are special, they bring their own kind of wisdom and charm. But, in the back of my mind I do worry about the future. When I found out that I was pregnant with my second child I really worried as all first moms do, if I would be able to love my second child as much as my first-born? ‘The answer: ABSOLUTELY. I recently asked a friend, a fellow dog lover (and ballerina) if the same thing happens when your first dog, um….you know..gets older or sick and…dies can you love another dog the same way? “Oh yes” she said enthusiastically, “of course you do.”

My dog sighs happily beside me, my arm is around her soft fur, whispering to her softly. I love this dog so much that while her whiskers may be white, she will always be the 6 week old puppy that climbed into my lap, and never left. I will have that memory forever, and I will always love you, no matter what.

Waiting In A Too Still Moment

Thunderstorm - NOAA

Image via Wikipedia

There are a lot of things going on but except for the doctor’s appointment I had today, with a breast surgeon ( I’m fine) I am waiting for things to happen.  My dog looks unwell, tired and scared, she is not eating. Is it the upcoming thunderstorms she feels approaching or…..is she too old?  She won’t come up the stairs, that is very unusual. I changed my own doctor’s appointment next week because I noticed my dog’s exam with her veterinarian is scheduled for the same day. I will go with her; I have always gone with her, every year for nine years. She needs me and I need her. She is nine and sometimes I look at her and want to quietly weep. My pup. I’ve had you since I rescued you at six weeks old.

I am waiting for test reports to come back, not for myself; the phone is quiet, not shrieking, loud and  jarring as it usually is.  It is never this quiet here.  I feel a pause in the universe and inside myself.  There are no sounds in the house except my fingers clicking on this old keyboard. I am concentrating on the stillness and it feels surreal.

Will it feel like this when both my kids go off to college? My son, is going to college in September; my daughter, my baby, next year. Prom is the day after tomorrow and I am still in disbelief  that time has passed so quickly. Even though I have seen the handsome tuxedo and the grin on my son’s face I can’t believe it is here. I am afraid I will cry when I see the sparkling young couples posing together for their prom pictures. I will bring sunglasses and not let it show although my son only has to take one passing glance at me and he will know. I will NOT let him see.

I could pick up the phone but I don’t want to ruin this eery quiet with unnecessary noise. The silence and solitude, I fear, is meant for a reason. I am breathing deeply. I sip from a small, green Pellegrino bottle, it seems to be the only color in the entire room. I never liked to drink water before but I enjoy this. Maybe it’s because we drank bubbly mineral water, every day, when we were in  Spain.  Our Spain vacation with my husband, for ten days, now seems like a dream I had; it is getting cloudy in detail, in texture, in color, in my memory.

I would like to keep everyone safe and healthy but I have no control. I am  gathering up courage in order for me to help others. I am trying to come from a centered place. I am controlling anxiety by breathing but it is beginning to be hard to swallow. My dog, my son, test results, weather, change is coming quickly, but it isn’t here yet.

It is getting cloudy now, maybe the thunderstorms will come and relieve the awful, suffocating heat. The thunderstorms are supposed to make the weather cooler; I know that but my dog doesn’t. I will keep her near me, my arm around her fur and wait for the storms to come crashing down like glass shattered by a young boy’s errant baseball. Everything can change in a moment, I want to be ready.