Age has this way of catching up with us and usually when we least expect it.
I remember when I was a kid and my parents were young...their thirties and forties were great years.. My parents were at their most vibrant. I thought I would never get old, and neither would they and now suddenly I am facing that truth, it's staring me in the face.
Am I scared? No. I think though I wonder what's in store for us. Perhaps there is some fear--in the unknown, of what is to come.
Lately I am having strange dreams, not bad dreams, just strange. I won't even go into the dreams they are so strange. They border on the hilarious, the dramatic, the absurd. And since I am known for my strange dreams, I'll leave it at that.
The dreams often leave me thinking about my own mortalit, well not just mine but that of my husband, parents, grandmothers, my siblings, aunts and uncles, and other family I have been close to my entire life. When papaw, my dad's father died in May, it was hard. I didn't go to the services up in Georgia but I mourned just the same. Papaw had been there our whole lives, and suddenly at 91 he was gone. For me at least, it seemed a piece of me was gone too. I can't imagine how my father and his sisters felt because I have never lost a parent, but I know my mother understood and I know that it has to hurt, to lose someone who has always been there for you.
I don't remember having that reminiscient type feeling when my mom's father who we affectionately called "gramps" died in 1984. Emphysema had been his enemy for years and finally it caught up with him and took his life. When he died I was not quite fifteen yet and even at that age I was far too young to put his death in the proper perspective. All I knew was one night we said goodbye to him in the hospital and the next morning he was gone. I remember wondering if he knew we had been there, saying goodbye as he slept. I think he did know. It was only a few years ago I started dreaming of him and then at that time, out of the blue, the reality of his death and absence from my life--from all our lives since 1984, hit me in such a way--that it seemed as if my grieving process had just begun in the present, instead of all those years ago. My only solace in it was that in my dreams he came to me and talked to me as if to say "I'm ok".
Well, this brings me to another thought. Last night I went over to mom and dad's for an hour or so and it was hard for me to see mom so tired from work and dad walking so slow with his neck bent forward in pain from what the doctors have told him is arthritis. I researched different types of arthritis and told him to ask the doc if he has the type which fuses one's spine together. His neck hurts all the time, he's smoking again, I feel bad, I feel like there's something I should be doing to help him. And yet I can do nothing. It's a feeling of helplessness I have never known. I am at the point in my life that I saw my parents at when I was a kid---especially my mother when she was my age and her own father was so sick from emphysema. He died in 1984 when she we was only 38, two years older than I am now.
My parents are both sixty. To me in some ways they are still 36, but I am in denial somewhat. I want them to stay around forever because if they don't, my happy little world will come crushing down on me. I know mom and dad will read this and all I can say is "don't worry, I'm ok" and really I am. I don't want them to worry that I dont' sleep at night or spend all my time worrying. Mom and dad I promise I am not a basket case nor am I sad. Actually I feel really really good these days and I think it's important to ponder these feelings I have in order to make some sort of sense of them...
...if sense can ever be made of them at all, which sometimes I wonder.
Any child who loves their parents and has had to go through this, knows what I am feeling. This is the point where that dreaded word--AGE--catches up with us. When the friends we went to high school with have children in college, where our parents have more doctor's appointments and ailments with each passing year, where our pop culture is considered ancient, where television stars who were famous when we were kids, are graying, aging or dying off. And finally when we sit back and say the once-dreaded "I now know what my parents were talking about".
I used to say I'd never say that. But now I think it's ok to say it.
My parents taught me a lot when I was a kid, things I never understood till I got older, which I think sometimes is the way it's supposed to be. Parents say to their kids someday it will sink in. My grandmothers surely told that to my parents, and my parents said it to us kids. It's true, we don't get it till we're older, because with age comes wisdom and we are not entitled to that wisdom when we are young, only when we begin to enter a certain time in our lives. It's like an "enlightenment" of sorts. It's the time when we really start questioning who we are and what our purpose is in life, which for many folks, especially in my generation, comes only now. I think I am one of the lucky ones to be asking at a few weeks short of my 37th birthday. Some folks will not be asking these questions until it's too late.
All I want out of life is to be happy. I don't want money, I don't want to be famous, I don't need a big fancy job or a lot of friends. My family, the few friends I have that I can count on one hand, and my health are important to me. Also my "enlightenment" is important too. I want to be a better person and understand my purpose, if that word comes from God fine, I know He has had an influence in my life. And so I just continue to persevere every day and I hope I continue learning from the lessons being taught to me by those who have gone through what I am going through now. I hope I have the patience to shut up, listen, and understand the meaning of it all.
I still fear facing my own mortality. As my parents and others around me who were once young and vibrant, are aging, I have no choice. I cannot deny I too am getting older. But I hope that I can put aside that fear and enjoy life for what it is meant to be. And maybe do a little bit of good in the time I am here.