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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Getting Older

It's hard to get older.

Not because of the vanity part really, although it is getting increasingly weirder for me to shop in the Juniors section and in all honestly I still don't feel I belong in the "Misses" section with the frocky shirts and the momjeans.

But besides being caught between worlds in fashion which is difficult enough, getting older is hard because things are just harder. And it's hard for all those obvious reasons like the kids and the jobs and the bills and the house and the schools and the very real adult decisions we all have to make now and it's not like being a kid anymore.

But the hardest part about getting older, for me, is not even any of that. It's watching everyone around me getting older.

You begin to reach an age where your parents are older, your grandparents are older and things begin to fail and break down and you can't even imagine a world in which these people you love so much are not in it and you want so much for it all to slow down and for time to stand still and for things to last forever. Or as they are rightnow.

It makes me want a "pause" button. Or at least a "rewind." Or perhaps life could have one of those nifty "chapters" things where all my frames of life would pop up in those squares like on a DVD and I could just hit that button and live in it for a little while again, just to remember what it's like and to pretend that really things are that way.

Of course, that could mean that all the things I left out of my "selective memory" about my youth could miraculously pop back up and that might not be such a good thing either.

I digress.

I was riding my bike along the beach a couple weeks ago and I was riding in front of a row of condominiums.

And there was the smell of the salty sea air mixed with the smell of parking lots mixed with the smell of tall buildings (if ever there were such a smell and I believe there is) and the mishmash of smells reminded me of my Grandmother's condominium complex where she and my Grandpa used to live and I was 10. I closed my eyes briefly like I do when I bask in something that reminds me of something else but not for too long because I was biking 18 miles an hour and that could be bad.

But it smelled just like that and I remembered their white car (chosen specifically because "it never gets dirty!") and the little doggie with the bobble head on the dashboard and the smell of their house and how we ate Special K for breakfast along with a tiny glass of orange juice ("because that's what keeps you strong!") And we would take walks down by the pool and watch the alligator sun himself on the lawn of the pond behind it and I would smell my Grandmother's hair in the breeze.

I always loved her smell, it wasn't perfume, there was always just a sweet scent about her.

We named each one of her keys. There was "cockey" (car key) and "dorky" (door key) and it was silly but we still snicker about it even still.

Anyway, we would play cards and dice and shuffleboard and go down to the clubhouse and meet her girlfirends and we would go out to Bealls Department store and they would buy me an outfit.

My Grandpa passed when I was 13 and we all took it hard but my dad took it the hardest. My Grandma stayed in the condo after he passed and we would visit her and when we would leave she would always stand on the porch of her 2nd story condo and wave at us as we would pass and we would honk the horn to say "Goodbye."

She was strong like ox. She was then and she is now.

And now she's 95.

She lives in a new place and she complains that she lives around a bunch of old people although she's probably the oldest one there.

But she's a little more frail now. Well, a lot more frail really. And it's really hard to watch. The woman who once plowed fields and ran the farm with her brothers and sisters is not the ox she used to be and even though we never knew her during her "farm" days, you didn't have to see that part to know how strong a woman she is. You just know.

I don't know how to write this because it sounds like I'm talking in past tense about how my grandmother was and I guess that's really the bottom line about what the most frustrating part of getting older is, that she is still very much exactly what she always was in her mind and it's just that her body does not do those same things anymore.

It is so hard to watch. Especially because she very much still feels like she's the ox she was and refuses to let her mind synch up with her body and you can see her frustration about all of it.
It is just so hard to watch anyone you're close to, your parents or Grandparents, yourselves, get older. And realizing that things are just not what they used to be, that life has no rewind button and things will never go back to what they were.

It hurts. With actual pain.

I miss the days where things weren't so complicated and so deep.

When we were all youngish and didn't worry about things breaking or medical bills or finding a good doctor or treating diseases or finding good assisted living.

Though it is all a part of life and is all relative.

Most days I reminisce happily and even if it begins to be sad, I can pass it off as a fleeting thought and be happy with my memories of it all and sigh, "Ahhh, that's life, right?"

But then there are days when I reminisce and the remniscing just hurts a little. Well ok, it hurts a lot and I cry with an ache inside my chest that makes me wish so hard that I could go back, that we can all go back, to where my Grandmother was still physically strong like ox, before my Grandfather was in a wheel chair, before my mom got sick with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis, times where we would all live with so much vigor and vibrance and their bodies were unbreakable!

I think about how down the road, there will be a day when that is me and I'll watch my husband grow older and I'll pray that everything goes smoothly with our aging but maybe it won't.

And that will be hard.

It makes me appreciate so much the right now. Because it so very quickly turns into used to be.

And I will miss the other "right now" which is the one where my toddlers are toddling and I will miss it even with the crazy lunacy that it can be some days.

Now I will dry my tears and I will stop thinking about what used to be and what could be I will go make Jambalaya.


*Lissa* said...

I have been struggling with this a lot lately. Aging sucks. ;p

Brooke said...

dammit you made me cry. football is my dad's life...something he wouldn't know what to do with if he had to give up. yet friday night i watched him limp out onto the field. as head referee he's behind the QB - the action went backwards and his rickety old knees weren't quick enough to get out of the way and his head bounced off the grass. i was terrified for a moment. (he's fine)

my mamaw can't come to jay's birthday party b/c its not wheel chair accessible and since her surgery she's limited to places with a handicap ramp. that's not my mamaw. she's not handicap.

getting old sucks.

Bari said...

I think about this a lot, too. I'm older than you (but not by much) and I only have my dad left. He's in his early 70s and is working really hard to take better care of himself. He's lost over 30 pounds and is now into the 270's. He takes insulin but had to stop taking one of his other meds because it just got too expensive. Growing old SUCKS. It sucks that we have to watch our parents grow older. It sucks that my own children never knew my mom. Kaylee asked me the other day what she was like and I didn't know how to respond. I feel like my memories of her have faded to dust and that makes me so sad.

Roo said...

I see my mom with more gray hair than brown and think that's not her...she's not in her 50's. I miss sledding down the hill with my dad in the winter, baggies over our shoes and tied around our ankles with rubber bands because we didn't have the right shoes to be playing outside in the winter. I miss my Grandpa's big bear hugs.

Anonymous said...

Especially when my aunt died, this all come to the forefront. With everyone gathered together, it was in my face how much older everyone is now. And slower. And hunched-er.

I loathe seeing my parents slow down. I loathe it.

Gina said...

Wow! Your grandma is a very strong woman, you have a lot to learn from her. I love my mom, my mom is powerful and courageous, she is a breast cancer survivor.

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. I see it in my mom. Mrs Double Knee replacement, Quadruple Bypass, Social Butterfly Queen. She's the most social woman I know and does everything. Hangs out with those young folks in their 50's and 60's :) She'll be 79 in November. She can't lift the pots and pans to cook anymore. Dad has to do it for her. He does most of the driving for her now. It breaks my heart. I need my mommy and I'm scared for her to ever leave me.

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