Posts tagged ‘aging’

Never Forget

As time passes, we grow taller, we go grayer. We live and learn. We spread our wings and hit the earth with a thud. We swallow big wormy bites of knowledge. Our hopeful little faces get shoved behind the curtain for a good long look. And magic slips away, like baby teeth taken by force instead of fairies.

I’m five decades in, and I know storybooks are fiction. I know the good guy doesn’t always win. I’m well aware that things don’t turn out according to plan. I have figured out that the broken places are weaker, not stronger (and I remain baffled by the origin and existence of many other pithy adages).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an unhappy person or a truly cynical one, but my soul wears a tattered cape, and Hope is an aged and weary soldier who, sometimes, late into an evening, talks of retiring. I know bad things happen. I know terrible things happen. I’ve heard the unexpected phone ring. I’ve held a fragile hand. It is an awful, awful truth that you reach an age when you’re wise enough to know that the end is near.

But, here’s the thing:  Experience does not equal omnipotence.

Sometimes, you sit in a hospital room and cry — for joy. Sometimes, luck is on your side. Sometimes, prayers are answered. Sometimes,­ the news is good.

This past Sunday, our family celebrated Mother’s Day with a low-key, quiet dinner. Nothing fancy. No big surprises. Just a simple gathering with good food, three generations at the table, and lots of hugging. Best. Mother’s Day. Ever.

Some weeks ago, my Mom wasn’t feeling well, and we didn’t know what was wrong. On April 24th, we found out:  She had a bilateral subdural hematoma, which is blood accumulating in the skull, putting pressure on the brain. At 8:00 a.m. on April 26, she went into surgery.

I will never forget how it felt to let go of her hand that morning. I will never forget how it felt to wait, and only wait, because it was impossible to read or eat or speak. I will never forget that, except for some incredible luck, the grace of God, and my parents’ dogged attempts to get a fourth opinion, we would have lost her — but that is an abyss from which I must back away. So, instead, I will end with this. I will never again forget this:

My entire life, my mother’s love has been a selfless, unwavering certainty. It has been as steady an aspect of my being as breathing. So much so, that I may have at times treated it like something ordinary. Or as if it were something of mine, like a possession I earned or a prize I deserved. But it’s not about me. It’s not about me at all. It’s all about her. And I don’t know what I would do or who I would be without it.

May 17, 2017 at 7:10 pm 2 comments

The 40-day Resolution

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking about what my resolution should be for 2013. There is a long list of potentials.

I want to lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more. I could commit to changing bad habits, to being kinder, to swearing less while driving. I could make a firm commitment to clean the litter box every day or to never leave dirty dishes in the sink or to stop leaving clothes in the dryer until they’re so wrinkled I have to re-wash them. I could promise to talk to a tree guy about the once-weeds-soon-to-be-trees growing under my porch. I could return the busted comcast console that’s been boxed up and sitting in my basement for over a year. I could vow to write to my out-of-town nephews more often. I could say I’m going to wash my car once a week and clean out the papers, scarves, shoes, litter, water bottles, and who-knows-what-else on a more frequent basis so that there doesn’t appear to be a homeless person wintering in my back seat. I could start that novel. Or, at least, try to find a way to get all of the poems and short stories I’ve written off of two broken laptops, the old tower, and the stack of floppy disks. I should get my inbox back to zero (or, at least, lower than 1400 unread). I really should play the piano more often, and I want to learn to play my grandfather’s accordion. I could make a resolution to do more pro bono freelance jobs or hands-on volunteer work. I’d like to find a job that helps make the world a better place but still pays the bills. I could promise myself to be less shy, more hopeful, and at least make some attempt to assist the universe in bringing true love into my life. I could promise myself to cook a real dinner more often. I could stop cutting my own bangs. I could get organized. I really need to paint (walls, not canvases). I could promise to start doing one of those brain games that helps you improve your memory, so then I could promise not to forget stuff so much. I could resolve to get new glasses or go to the dentist. I could commit to cleaning out the garage and basement and sorting through the junk and making an overdue trip to Goodwill.

Yep. There are a lot of things I could focus on that would make for an acceptable, sensible resolution. Things to help make me a happier person or a more valuable member of society. A better friend, a better daughter, a better sibling, a better neighbor.

But, as things go quiet, with the hub-bubious distractions of the holiday season behind me, the goal has become obvious. Like a deer facing headlights on a dark and stormy night, like a track-tied damsel spotting the oncoming train, I see it clearly. I have 40 days. And there is but one resolution I can make.

I hereby resolve to do everything in my power to avoid a complete and utter, bug-eyed, jaw-dropped, screaming banshee, Don-Knottian, Daffy-Duckian, Thelma-and-Louisian, all-out-batshit-freakout when I turn 50.

January 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm 3 comments

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