I’ve been accusing my children, probably falsely, of pushing me into old age. I appreciate that they are so protective, but I figure they more they tell me I can’t do, the faster I’ll age. It’s all well meaning: Jordan is panicky about my contracting West Nile Virus (mosquitoes don’t even particularly like me) and warns me that I’m in a dangerous age bracket—makes me feel like an endangered species. Colin has forbidden (there’s a shoe on the opposite foot) me to stand on a stool and get the crockpot down from its high shelf—I must ask Elizabeth to do it (and she concurs).
I was talking with dear friends about this recently at supper—she’s seven years younger than I, and he’s somewhere in between. She said that each new phase of aging is like brand new territory for which we have no road map, no clue, yet our children expect us to have cumulative knowledge that guides us through this new land.
As I did the dishes, I thought about that and decided, for me, the flaw in her reasoning is that I don’t ever feel like I’ve moved into a new phase. In many ways, I feel the same as I did twenty years ago. Granted, there are some new physical problems, and my feet are shot, but frequent yoga keeps much of the pain and stiffness at bay. So I still feel I can do things I did twenty years ago, although I recognize that my balance, never good, is worse these days. And I was never graceful, so I’ve taken some falls recently.
I don’t want to start questioning myself—can I take this heavy garbage cart down to the curb or should I ask for help (I did it myself). Can I stand on a stool and explore what’s in that cupboard over the fridge (nothing as heavy as the crockpot.) Seems to me it would be so easy to slip into old age by saying, “I’m too old. I’ll have to ask someone to do that for me.”
Colin says it’s a question of making good choices, and he’s probably right. There are some things I couldn’t have done twenty years ago and ought not try now. I can’t garden—it kills my low back. But I can keep a pot garden on the front porch and the deck. I can and will continue to cook and throw big parties. And I’ll continue to enjoy life.
A confession: I notice I become much more dependant when my children are around. One day before school was out, Jamie was here and went with me to get Jacob. I clung to him crossing the street. Shoot! I cross that street every day by myself just fine. I’m really watching that kind of stuff.
I’m editing a book now for someone else about a blind man who is really touchy about asking for help and downright angry when people offer help he doesn’t need. I’m taking a hint from him—I’ll ask for help when I need it, and do as darn much as I can for myself.