I’m Not Old Enough

This is my response to the fabulous Tori Nelson’s post called “old enough.

I’m Not Old Enough . . .

. . . to give up my dreams in the face of other people’s sense of
what is appropriate;

. . . to sit in a corner gathering dust
while younger generations act like my time has passed;

 . . . to fade quietly into an existence defined by other’s

and yet society wants to make that so.

I’m not old enough . . . 

. . . to live without the joys of childhood
like ice cream on a sunny day
or conversations with stuffed animals.

. . . to live without singing and dancing
for the pure joy of song and movement

. . . to be afraid of getting dirty
with paint stains or clay pieces
as I create an imperfect piece of art

and yet the world resists the joy,
insisting that money and success are all that matter.

I’m not old enough . . . 

. . . to stop fighting for what I believe in
or hoping for the world to change

. . . to stop learning from others
and helping others along the way.

I’m not old enough  . . . 

And I NEVER will be!!!

Photo by Mehmet Akin

Long Distance Loss

Histopathogic image of senile plaques seen in ...

Image via Wikipedia

Newspaper headlines capture my eye
“Alzheimer’s deaths soar, research funding lags”
“Camp gives teens respite from Alzheimer’s”
I cry.
I ache.
I wish.

Links to my family
severed by time
by distance
by disease.
Part of me yearns for proximity
to help
to connect
to understand.
But closeness will not stop
a disease that shows not mercy.
Money will not stop
a disease of creeping time.
Love will not stop
the slow decay of inevitability.
Guilt will not heal
the broken connections
of a family
fragmented
long before the invasive disintegration
of memory,
of hope,
of dreams,
of soul.

Mother Daughter Swap

Like millions of Americans, I called my Mother yesterday.

Having tea a few years ago.

“I just called to say Happy Mother’s Day.”

“Thank you. And you too.”

I always find Mother’s Day awkward. Partially because, despite the fact that I am a Mom, I think my mother still sees me as the daughter who needed her all the time. Or the daughter that she wanted to need her all the time.

I’m no longer the daughter my mother knew.

I don’t often write about my family for a number of reasons.  Guilt. Frustration. Anger. Sadness. They all filter my relationship with my family.

Please understand that I am not blaming them, I blame myself. For a long  time I tried to perceive my family differently and to keep my connection with them in the ideal family sense. But I failed.

We all failed.

Yesterday Mom sounded pretty good. She had a positive lilt to her voice which she doesn’t always have. Of course, she was disappointed that my older sister decided to celebrate a friend’s birthday instead of Mother’s Day. But that’s not surprising to anyone, really. My sister’s role in the family is one of the reasons I don’t write very much about the family. It hurts too much. (And don’t worry, she very rarely reads this blog I’m sure. My brother does–you know him from The Odd Ramblings . . ., but I’m sure he understands what I mean.)

Then the conversation took a surprising turn.

“I think I’m retiring in July,” she tells me. “But now everyone’s telling me I shouldn’t retire. First everyone told me I should, now everyone’s telling me I shouldn’t.”

“Who is telling you not to retire?”

“Auntie Sis and one of your Dad’s home care people.” (My Dad has Alzheimer’s and I feel awful that I cannot spend more time with him or help. Another reason I don’t write about them often.)

I hesitated before I responded. I have been encouraging her to retire for a while now, because she complains about being tired all the time and about how she cannot get anything done. But, I know my mother. She’s not the most social being. She is no longer likely to pursue a project or a hobby simply because it interests her. She always has an excuse as to why she cannot do something.

So while a part of me thinks she should retire, another part knows that retirement might lead to fading away.

So this is what I said:

“Mom, I understand what they are saying. If you retire and do nothing, simply fade away, then that’s not a good choice. I know you, and that could happen. But you are the only one who can make the choice. If you can promise yourself to DO SOMETHING when you retire, then you should retire. But I can’t make you do anything, and you have to choose.”

“I know. That’s what I’m afraid of. I have a lot of thinking to do.”

Just like that our relationship changed. For a brief moment, she heard and accepted what I have to say.

It hurts to be so far away from my family, because I cannot help them deal with the changes that come from age and life. But, it also hurts to be near them because I cannot stop the changes anyway.

Each of us have chosen paths in our lives. Now all we can do is live them to the best of our abilities.

I leave you with a video my brother made. Watch closely and you will understand why. His original post of the video is called “Time Passes (a visual poem)“.

E at Eighteen

Eighteen lives an exciting life.
Every dream has potential
Every idea is new.

Eighteen plus Eighteen
Every day is about another
Every dream is for another
Every idea helps her grow.

Eighteen plus Eighteen plus Eighteen
enters the unknown.

 

Home . . . Sick

Mom, Dad and Sarah before it all changed.

I’ve been struggling about what to write this morning.

Usually the first thing I do in the morning is start my daily post.  But, this morning was different for a few reasons.:

  • I had to drag my carcass out of bed in order to drive my husband in to get a school van at 6am–why then? I don’t know.
  • The inevitable post-show blues hit, right in the middle of the show yesterday. Causing me to miss my curtain call! I didn’t know they were going to give me flowers at the end of the show. I thought they hated me by this point. Anyway, the post-show blues are often followed by some kind of physical thing, and this was no exception. I think it works something like this:

Germ 1: “Ooh, we haven’t been able to get to this one in a long time! She’s been so stressed, that we couldn’t even squeeze in. I want to get her bad!

Germ 2: I know. She is like a crazy person. And whenever she’s crazy those white dudes never let us in. It stinks.

Brain Chemicals: She finished. Now let’s make her feel sad because its fun.

Germ 1: Oh! The brain chemicals are out and she’s loosening up! Now is our chance! Let’s get her!

Germ 2: ATTACK!!!

And so, I am home sick, today.

But I still was stuck for anything to write about, so I visited some of my favorite blogs instead, in the hopes that I might get inspired. I read this sad and beautiful post by CM Smith called “Why?” CM and I are going through some similar experiences right now as we lose our fathers to the silences of Alzheimer’s. I haven’t written much about it, because I feel guilty in many ways. Living so far away from my family, I’m not there to witness the daily struggles or to offer help and support. I rarely talk to Dad on the phone, and Mom doesn’t really like to talk on the phone either. In many ways, this disease has widened the communication gap between my family and myself, and I don’t know how to bridge that gap. So, I simply avoid thinking about it–but it is always there. And my sadness about my dad seeps into my thoughts often.

So now, I’m home sick and I’m homesick.

But, reading CM’s post lead me this post about aging by NR Hatch, called “An Age Old Question . . . Old Age”.  She writes this post with a touch of humor, because all of us face the dreaded factor of joints creaking, gravity taking over, vision worsening, hearing fading. Face it, even the little babies are doomed to become decrepit old folks. NR’s humorous take on the battle with her parents to try to get them to move into a smaller and more functional situation reflects recent discussions with my own mother who refuses to even consider moving out of her home. I guess I understand, homes signify freedom and memories, but at what point do we say, okay, its time to let go? I wish both my parents could find freedom in old age, by holding onto memory rather than things. But memory is being slowly stripped from my dad, so my mother clings more to the things.

So, I guess I’m lucky in a way. Yes, I’m home sick, and I can be homesick, but reflecting on age and emotion and illness has led me to an important conclusion. I’ve moved a lot. I’ve said hello and goodbye to many wonderful people throughout my life. I’ve lived many incredible experiences. I’ve had to leave many homes behind. But, I carry them with me wherever I go, and have begun to share them in the words of this blog.

NR Hatch  wrote: “I am not going to worry about the passage of time until my feet no longer look good in flip flops.  If my eyesight fails quickly enough, that day will never come.” Nobody can win the battle against time, so I am not going to try. But, I am going to try to preserve memories in a way that they can never truly be lost–not by collecting possessions, but through a collection of words and images. I know that there is a possibility that I will follow my father down the dark path of oblivion, but I intend to leave a lot of stories behind.

So now, I’m simply home.

The Mind Body Connection

Today I am thinking a lot about the process of aging, and the connections between our minds and our bodies. I would love to think that the mind can overpower the body, but the reality is more complex. We cannot just think ourselves healthy, but at the same time I believe our minds play an important role in the healing process.  I have spent the last week trying to encourage my mind to stay positive, so that healing can begin in all sorts of ways. Today, my mind energy is with my sister who is undergoing her second round of open heart surgery in a year. I cannot be with her in person, so my mind energy is the only thing I have to offer at the moment.

But is that energy enough?

I’ve spent the last 6 days in a battle with my own body. On Sunday my back decided that it had had enough of whatever it thought I was doing and chose to rebel with as much pain as it possibly could. My brain would tell my back what to do, and the muscles in my back said “we don’t have to listen to you!”

They didn’t listen and my mind went into a panic.

Sunday night consisted of extreme gymnastics. I’m not the world’s greatest sleeper (as you may have noticed from former blog posts) and when I do sleep I have the tendency to toss and turn a lot.  On Sunday, in order to change positions in bed, I had to go to extreme measures and contortions involving a combination of falling out of bed, climbing the wall, and  using my arms to pull my body into the nearest comfortable position I could find. Comfort which would only last a short time before my acrobatic act had to begin again.

Needless to say, medical help seemed to be in order.

One emergency room trip later (as I still have to find a local doctor) and I had pain killers with codeine and muscle relaxants.  Now my mind entered a new relationship with my body. My mind said “I am going to float around here with the fuzzy clouds”

My body said, “I’ll pretend you don’t hurt but watch out, when you least expect it, whammo!”‘

I tried to meditate to help with the healing, but my mind refused to cooperate. Sleep seemed the only solution.

I had some things that I couldn’t avoid this week. I had already postponed auditions for a show two times, and felt that it was necessary to do them this week.  My mind said “go for it!”

My body said “Ok, I guess.”

I went for it, and felt good about it, but now my brain is undecided about how to cast because it was still in a fuzzy zone when I watched the auditions. Ah well, at least I got them done.

Last night, I didn’t take any medication, and I was able to sleep more comfortably. I could turn over without agony or  contortions  that would compete with Chinese Acrobats. Healing has begun.

But, the occasional twinge reminds me that my back still has a mind of its own.

This morning, I watched the most recent episode of Bones, where the issue of age played an interesting role. Booth got out of bed to a pounding knock on his door. As he made his way to the door, everything in his body that could crack, cracked. Bones heard this internal drum line and commented on the fact that he was at an age where his bone structure was deteriorating.  Hmmm, I thought, he is around my age probably. And I enjoy a couple of cracks here and there, as it releases pressure I didn’t know I had. But, is that pressure in my mind or in my body, or in both?

Today, I cannot pay any attention to this battle between my mind and my body. I need to send my mind energy, my healing energy, toward my sister.  I cannot be there in person, so I have to be there in mind. But, given the relationship between my mind and body this week, will that be helpful or harmful to her body?

Only time will tell.

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