ANTICIPATION 

I am in a strange state of anticipation. It’s not a good place, anticipating something I want or to earn. Rather I am waiting, monitoring, the health of my mother-in-law and dad. Both are elderly, unhealthy and I am preparing myself for the inevitable. In other words, I am waiting for them to die.

I am not a vulture, ready to inherit money or their possessions. It’s likely I may have to contribute financially, especially for my mother-in-law who has no savings. What my dad leaves will be mostly memories and a lot of junk (sorry, dad) in the garage. I’m not rubbing my hands together in greedy anticipation. There will be stories, memories and pictures, those we will share and carry with us. I know this because I’ve been through this before. With Jerry and before with other relatives, I know what to expect and I want to be prepared, as much as it is possible to prepare.

I don’t mention this, of course. I look at my sisters and wonder what it will do to them when our dad goes. They were young when our mom died and it affected them for years after; they missed her when they graduated and got married, and when my nephew was born. Our dad was able to be there for those occasions at least y u how much longer? I know they think about this too.

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We all had lunch today with our dad; my sisters, their husbands, my nephew and me. It’s a rare thing for us all to be together but they made the effort because we all know our dad has one operating artery and there is nothing else the doctors can do but give him pills. He goes to his cardiologist on a monthly basis. He eats bacon and pork rinds without being scolded. While we were eating he casually mentioned the pastor he wants to do his funeral, he’s already asked him. I just swallowed some Diet Coke and choked a little. I know he’s made his arrangements, a military funeral and burial. I know, we all know, the funeral home handling the arrangements. He did this because he’s trying to be helpful, to make it easier on us when the time comes. My grandpa, my mom’s dad, did the same thing. Truly it did help but there are still details and hard moments, it isn’t easy. Grief is a layered business.

My mother-in-law is a contrast. She’s not planned for anything. Honestly I don’t blame her, denial is a pleasant place. She’s in Florida (God’s Waiting Room, she once called it) I talked to her and she was groggy on painkillers. She has heart problems too, but raises the stakes with a large blood clot in her left leg. She had surgery on her leg, the clot was bigger than they thought and now she’s recovering in a rehab facility. My brother-in-law is helpless and frankly useless. I ask him how she is, what the doctors said, what about her meds and treatment and he says she’s not good but that’s all the info he has. He’s never had to deal with stuff like this, I know he loves his mom but he isn’t a good advocate. Jerry did all that for them both, he was the steady and responsible one, taking care of them both from an early age. He’s not here now and neither of them seems to know how to cope, Ruth because she’s sick and weak and Mike because he never learned. Most of my info comes from Bear, who takes his dad’s role as protector seriously even when he’s 10,000 miles away. I dread getting a phone call from Bear about his grandma. I hope that when the time comes she isn’t hurting or alone and I hope someone is with my brother-in-law too. I am concerned that I may have to go to Florida, she once told us she was paying on a funeral plan with a funeral home but not sure she kept making payments and I don’t know its name.

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I don’t look forward to making arrangements, calling people, deciding whether to put it on Facebook (probably will for my dad), finding something to wear and dealing with the condolences, among other things. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again but I know better.

Bear messaged me and said he is thinking of visiting soon. His wife’s Visa is still being processed and they don’t know when it will be ready. He says he might come anyway. He says he misses Fall but we both know the real reason; he wants to see them both and say goodbye.

Old 

It comes as a surprise to me that I’m old. I don’t feel old, and have a hard time seeing myself as being old when I think about the future.

One reason is denial. I am not old because there are people older than me; they are old, not me. As long as there are Baby Boomers cluttering up the place I am not old. And I just learned Lenny Kravitz is older than me.

Being old now is different from being old in the past. Not that many people got to be old, but the previous century changed a lot of that. Just referencing “the previous century ” makes me feel a little old then I remind myself this century is less than 20 years old, so chill. Not old, not me, not yet.

This was made clear a few weeks ago, from of all things,  watching All in the Family, a 70’s sitcom. 

As a little kid watching this show Archie and Edith were Old, with a capital O. He was balding and gray, and always bringing up World War II. She was frumpy and absent minded, confused by new and modern things. So I had this image of them as practically elderly and even watching the show with my dad now they are still old. 

The high school reunion episode blew my mind. Edith was invited to her 30th year high school reunion and Archie, who didn’t graduate, didn’t want to go with her. I did some math and realized they were 48 years old. I’m older than both of them were at that time. That was what 48 looked like in the 70’s. Mind blown. 

To me being old is being sick, weak and afraid. I don’t want to be any of those things and I fight against it. I am aware my mother died when she was 7 years older than I am now. Jerry was 52 when he died, but had the physical condition of an 80 year old. So I walk, occasionally do yoga and try to take the stairs when possible. I did the Memorial race thinking about people I know who couldn’t do this, people my age, some older and some younger and I felt grateful to be there. I hope to be active and healthy as long as possible and to kick diabetes’s ass for years to come. 

The only time I feel old is when I look in the mirror. I wonder who is that old hag  and what happened. There are bags under my eyes no matter how much sleep I got the night before. 

I still have reservations about plastic surgery, but procedures like injections are not too extreme. I’m vain enough for it. I may be old but darned if I’m going to look it.

I don’t intend to be dowdy and timid like Edith. Once a woman is 40 she is supposed to cut her hair, to wear neutral colors and flats. I did not, except for the flats but my low heeled shoes of choice are sneakers. Always have been, I  still wear jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. I’m beyond wanting to impress anybody.  I still have long hair, dyed not my natural color. I am quiet but will assert myself and make my presence known, if needed. It’s a strange thing, I couldn’t do it when I was younger but now I can. 

I am much the same person I’ve always been. Conventional wisdom says people get more conservative as they get older but my politics haven’t really changed, the main difference is I don’t freak out as much. After all this time it takes a lot to shock me.  Gossip, supposedly a hobby of old ladies, does not interest me. A lot of stuff that old ladies are supposed to like, such as sewing, crafting and quilting, is not for me, mostly because I lack the skills but I don’t really care to acquire them either.

Yet there’s so much I still want to see and do. I want to travel more, to go to places I’ve never been,  I want to see the new Wonder Woman movie, read the new Neil Gaiman book, read a lot of books really. I want to do another half marathon, maybe more than one. I want to learn to make spring rolls. I want to see if this colonizing Mars thing really happens, and see if a woman becomes president. I want to see the Wings win at least another Stanley Cup, that alone may take years.

Old people retreat from new ideas and technology, change is the enemy. Stuff was better back in the day, no matter what. Perhaps I am getting there because music was better way back in my youth. I like Art Deco and movies from the silent era to the 50’s.  But I don’t fear or hate change the way old people do. I admit I am ticked off at Microsoft over Windows 10, trying to make people pay for Word and Excel–that’s a rant in itself. Maybe I am old after all. Crap. 

At least I haven’t yelled at the neighbor’s kids to get off my lawn.

I think Maurice puts it well. From one of those old movies I like.