The Hands of Time - by Robin
It's a hard thing to anticipate. But, I do hope to live to a ripe old age (and hopefully have a "quality" life.) But, how do you define "quality" when you're elderly?
I watched my dad this past week during our annual family vacation, and it was an example of what I hope not to become. I hate to say it, but my dad yearns unrealistically to be 40 again. OK....maybe he'd settle for 60.....but certainly some age where he doesn't feel his age. (He's told often he doesn't look it....but that doesn't offer him much consolation.)
I've said to him on countless occasions...is it truly possible at almost age 91 to feel great?! Does anyone at that age?
I don't feel as I did when I was younger....at almost 50 (I choke when I type that number....though I'm not there yet.)
Ted Kennedy sadly just passed away at age 77 after a bout of brain cancer. That couldn't have been pleasant.
Dominick Dunne, author/journalist, passed away at age 83 from bladder cancer. No doubt also not a walk in the park.
What does my dad expect?! And thank G-d, my dad is not suffering from cancer. Much of his discomfort is the result of complications from surgeries in hindsight he didn't need to have and didn't benefit from. He does not have a disease...unless old age is considered such. I think it is, in his mind.
I can't condemn him for wanting to fight the hands of time. I guess most of us do. But, does that mean your days then become full of constant complaining....bringing down those around you....especially loved ones who try to be supportive to the best of their ability, but have their our challenging lives to lead? Isn't it still possible to find happiness despite physical imperfection? Or is it that from now on the glass is perpetually 1/2 empty? How do people live with chronic illness?
My beloved mom (who passed away at age 73), may she rest in peace, was not one to complain. Even if she was suffering, she always had the presence of mind to consider the other person and try not to fill their head with negativity. Afterall, attitude does affect healing. So, no one gains from incessant crankiness.
But, how does it feel to be really old?! On one hand, a person may be viewed as blessed to have lived such a full life. After all, disease knows no age, and plenty don't make it to 80+ and then some.
Should one just flat-out be appreciative? Or do you gain the right to complain more and more as the years pass? Is that what aging is about?
My dad has become a doctors dream...in that he frequents them. Though, he's not an easy patient since he complains of so much that I imagine they often don't know where to start. My husband jokes (though it's really not funny) and says that if my father didn't have good medical insurance, he'd learn to live with feeling less than up to par instead of constantly searching for a magic healing bullet.
I hate to put my father down. On one hand, I give him credit for practicing vigilant self care, but at times, it does feel self-absorbed. And, I miss him. I miss the dad who was there for me. I know he still loves and supports me, but the tables have turned. He is no longer my caretaker and can only lend a partial ear to hear what is going on in my life. He's quite caught up in his own daily existence.
I find myself often jealous of those who have parents who are truly there for them and will even watch their kids and do things with them. We have never had that. I wonder what that is like?
At the end of the day....I do love my dad....and miss my mom...and I hope that I don't one day become an emotional burden on my son. I really don't want to turn into a whiny curmudgeon. Perhaps having that awareness is a vital starting point.