Saturday, November 19, 2016

 A PIECE OF GOODBYE

Well, I don’t want to get maudlin about this.  I’ve already lived longer than anyone in my immediate family ever had.  And, I’m told that for a person of my age I’m in pretty good shape.  That’s nice, but….since the only measure of comparison I have is for the person I was all those years ago, all I can say is, “thanks, but no thanks!....... Pretty good shape?”  How come I hurt so much?  What is the measure of ‘pretty good?’

O.K., of course I recognize that statistically, the very fact that I’m still vertical and (usually) somewhat cognizant of my surroundings, and that a goodly number of my vintage are either no longer with us, or if they are, many can no longer walk unaided, or live from day to day without assistance.  Worse, (and I see this with some of my daily human contacts,)  don’t remember who they are or where they live.  That’s the scariest scenario I can think of, and I do think of it every time I have a momentary memory lapse for names of friends and everyday objects.

There are so many things that I can no longer do, or do only with extreme effort.  Many of those things I am able to simply shrug off.  Some were fragments of this stew we call life…the salt or other seasoning which, while an enhancement to that stew, their removal still leaves one with a pretty good meal.

Learning to live with the aches and pains of age, while difficult, is easiest accomplished in familiar surroundings.  One learns to adapt and accommodate in ones own home, where every room, every corner, every nook and cranny have been permanently imbedded into the person’s brain.  If I wind up kneeling or sitting on the floor in my own home, I pre plan it so that I will be near some chair or other appurtenance to grab onto to help arise.

Recently my wife and I spent 12 days on the big island of Hawaii.  In these totally unfamiliar environs, all the physical and mental aches, pains and assorted and sundry vicissitudes of what are associated with what (and I find this description laughable!) “The Golden Years.”

Hawaii Island is a glorious place, and I found it so.  But I also found myself quite unsteady walking across solidified lava beds…especially when warned, “Don’t fall…that rock is like a vegetable grater. 

And I learned that I am done trying to swim in the ocean.  Trying to regain my feet after being swept off my feet by undertow is something I used to do without thinking.  This time I felt like a turtle being placed on it’s back.  Where is the chair I use to raise myself up from a seated position?  By the way, anyone want to buy a professional grade swim mask?  Hardly used.  Will sell at sacrifice.

The botanical gardens in Hilo are magnificent, with plants from every corner of this planet. And I recommend them to everyone.  The paths are well paved.  But they are very hilly.  Some have handrails.  But the ones I remember don’t have handrails.  In what I perceive to be a nod to senior citizens (another term I despise!) there are strategically placed benches throughout the gardens.

The signs are unmistakable;  That span of what we call life, from birth to
death is, inexorably winding down.  I once was the youngest kid in class.  That was a blink of an eye ago.

This is not a cry for pity!  The only way to avoid the challenges of being old is to not becoming old.  So I’m OK with it.  I wish I had some stronger religious beliefs regarding immortality.  I often think how I’d be so happy to become reanimated into what I was.  Yet I’d want to retain the knowledge and experiences.  Can I have it both ways?  Regarding that subject of immortality, I’m open to the surprise of learning I was permanent.

This is my initial attempt to explain the inevitable ‘goodbye.’  But I realize each chapter must stand on it’s own.  I don’t know if there will be more.       

  

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