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Posts Tagged ‘aging’

My friend who called recently, see MY YOUNGER MEN, will be turning sixty tomorrow. That happens to be 9/9/09, a date which in itself, seems to suggest significence. Happy Birthday, Craig. 

For me, sixty was a life-directing birthday back in 1986. I gave myself a wonderful gift and it’s saved me a lot of stress. I vowed that from that day on, I would preface every decision I had to make with these words, “If I knew for certain that I had only one more year to live, would I do this?”

I’m sure that nothing works for everybody, but I highly recommend that you consider pausing a moment before making a decision to ask yourself that question – no matter how old you are. I’ve found that it never takes more than a moment, and it always feels so right.

 

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That’s why Nancy gave up nursing. After years of working at hospitals, she could no longer tolerate watching vain efforts to revive, rescussitate, or further diagnose teminally ill patients.

It was one thing if there was the slimest chance that the patient might live. Quite another when the poking, probing and gurney rides to take another test were making the patient miserable. 

Nancy could no longer bear to see frail, old people who were trying to die being dragged from their beds and taken for yet another X-ray or another MRI.

If people have the right to live, why shouldn’t they have the right to die? No amount of denial will change the fact that the human body is not going to live forever. It’s going to die. The person in that body may very well know when that time has come. 

Does anyone have the right to interfere with that process? Nancy didn’t think so. Neither do I.

My Do Not Recussitate order is in place. Right now I consider that  correct and even partiotic. Keeping people alive who are ready to die, gobbles up most of the insurance money paid out each year. I hope none of it prolongs my life when I’m ready to go.

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Four kids was the magic number. Everybody born in the 1920’s wanted to have four kids. That was because so many of our generation had been only children. They felt cheated that they didn’t have brothers and sisters.

That had never happened before–that only child thing. Women’s liberation really came about when women had a contraceptive for the first time, you know.  That’s why they called that whole era “the roaring twenties.” (The device was made of gold and was called a pessary. It’s now plastic and called an IUD. The pill came later.)

It would not surprise me to learn that “the universe” now questions whether it was maybe too soon to turn loose those unprepared young women.

The first thing they did with their emancipation was to almost turn their backs on feminity and begin to emulate men. They’ve taken that about as far as it could go. Now we’re seeing signs of a return to balance.  

Take, for example, “Dancing With the Stars” surprising success. I think it’s symbolic. It’s a beautiful thing to watch men and women dancing together again.

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When you’re 83, everybody on Earth is a kid – by comparison.  Furthermore, you can call anybody anything you like when you’re over eighty. No rule book has ever been written for people with that particular claim to fame. Nor am I proposing to write one.

I’m sitting here at my beloved Vaio, in the picture window of my glorious yard, with the fascinating challenge of introducing you, the younger reader, to what it’s like to be over eighty. Hang with me, and you’ll begin to look forward to it.

I have a particular kind of love for the whole baby-boomer generation – being wholely responsible for bringing four of them into existance. Well, OK, I was impregnated by their father. Yep, the same man for all four. That was acceptable, if not expected, “back then.”

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YOU GOTTA LEARN

When the bottle cap won’t budge, the lid won’t part from the jar, and the plastic wrapped article remains inaccessible, it’s time to learn to love yourself a little more. Patience is a virtue.

You’ve joined an elite club. You’re eighty. It’s OK to ask for help. Just don’t forget to be grateful, to say so, and t0 mean it.

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YOU GOTTA LAUGH

It was another cold day on the Mendocino Coast with patches of rain. I found myself in town following a one o’clock class with time to kill. I impulsively decided to go to the gym.

When I passed the fabric store in the same shopping center, I realized that they would be open because it was only three o’clock in the afternoon. I made a U-turn and pulled in near the door. A lovely young woman offered to help.

Two years ago when I was eighty and anticipating hip surgery, I had, for the first time, made some preparations for dying. I had a will drawn up and purchased and filled in MaggieWatson’s, A Graceful Farewell to save my heirs a lot of frustration, time, money, and maybe sanity. I had checked out the local crematorium, but I had not yet made my shroud although I felt strongly about what I wanted to wear for my cremation. It would be a simple white gown.

I asked the clerk what she had in white, 100% cotton fabric. Synthetics don’t burn cleanly. She walked me directly to a section where she found three white, cotton fabrics. We decided which one of them was less sheer and then she directed me to the patterns. There was not a vast selection, no caftan pattern at all so I spent quite a long time finding one that would work. It was a long dress pattern.

When I took the pattern over to check out, she helped me decide how much fabric it would take and started measuring out the four yards. As she did this, she attempted to make conversation and, so help me this is what she asked, “So are you going to some nice, warm place where you can wear this?” There were other people in the store or I might have told her the truth, but instead I quickly replied, “Yeah, I’m going to hell.”

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