I’m forty two; tack on another forty for my mother. We worry about aging. My dad, who passed away eight years ago at 78, worried about it too.
For each of us, aging is a personal experience. Last week was a reflective time on this personal experience for both mom and I.
Mom had what appeared to be a pretty serious fall last week, went to the emergency room for observations and was finally released to return home (or to our house as we would have it). The fall brought to light all of the issues that we deal with as move from one stage to the next; from youth to teenage years; from teens to young adult; from young adult to responsible adult and finally to twilight.
With each stage, we find joy in our situations and experiences. We look forward to the opportunities we’ll have when we are older and can take time to enjoy our place. Our priorities evolve with our needs and the responsibilities we have assumed. Sometimes we look back and remember a past that brought us pleasure while we pine for a time that only exists in our memories. Some of these experiences are within our grasp and we can capitalize on the joy they bring us while others are mere dreams that would send us into a hopeless abyss.
For mom, the rush of feelings involved realizing the loss of independence and health. Long gone are the days when you are invincible. Gone are the days where even walking without assistance is a normal routine. Those times are replaced with the need to rely on others to get up the steps or over a curb. Being able to execute the day to day activities that were autonomic now feel like a burden that must be passed on to others.
For me, it’s seeing mom suffer through those feelings and knowing that I too will suffer that fate. It’s realizing that someday my routine with mom will be a memory that I can’t experience again and the memories will evaporate into the past. There is a knowledge that as my daughter moves from stage to stage in life, things that are important to me will evolve with those important to her. It is also the knowledge that dreams exist that can never be realized because I moved on.
I probably think about it too much, but I don’t talk about it. I think about it when I have an ache, a pain and sometimes an itch. I think about it when mom talks about her aches, pains and itches. It is probably responsible for my jocular way of calling everybody “kids” (including mom.) I think about when I am forced to push an unattainable dream into the bin marked forever unfulfilled.
I don’t talk about it. I internalize it and let it play with my psyche. And then, I let it go only to see it return the next time I am confronted with mortality. And, once again I explore it to find aging a very personal experience.