Friday, June 3, 2016

Falling Friday - Aging Isn't a Place for Sissies

Most of the following post was written in July of 2011, after the wife of my next door neighbor of many years passed away.  Her husband turned 91 earlier this week, and I only hope he knew it.

Why?

Because the last time I talked to him, he had no idea how old he was.  He has followed his late wife down the road of dementia, and it has taken someone who was once a wonderful person and neighbor with it.  He still has some lucid days, but is under 24 hour care at home.

Fortunately, he has a large, loving family.

And now, with some editing, that post:

Today at work, I heard that the mother of a co-worker had passed away.  When I went to the local online obituary, I saw a name I knew well.  Not her, but a different obituary.

It was my next door neighbor of over 20 years.

She had passed away yesterday.  Her death was fall related.

I immediately called my spouse.  He already knew, and, in fact, had just come from their house, where he visited with family for 40 minutes.  (I visited tonight, as out of town family started to arrive.)

Her husband....her widower....seemed to be taking it well.   He said to my husband "She died on the 4th of July.  She went out with a bang."

They had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary less than a week ago.  In the last stages of dementia, she never knew it.

 I don't care what they say about old age.  It stinks.  It robs us of the essence of what we are.  Don't talk to me about the "golden years".  There is nothing golden about those years.  Those years took the mind and then the life of a wonderful woman, who was loved by everyone who knew her.  My neighbor was a deacon of her church.  She was a retired elementary school librarian.   She did a lot of charity work.  She raised six children and at least, tonight, her husband is surrounded by their very large family. (Her husband was an only child and wanted a large family very much.  He got it, thanks to her.)

She loved romance novels.  She had hundreds of them, and she kept trying to give some to me.  She was an avid reader. She loved to have her grandchildren over to visit.

She spent so much of the last couple of years of her life a prisoner of her living room chair.  Her husband, once a telephone lineman, aged at her side.  He told me, tonight, that "I am happy".  We talked to their youngest son, and he talked about her death.  It was a good death.  About two weeks ago, her voice became very slurred. Then she stopped eating. Then she stopped drinking.  She drifted away, asleep almost all of the time.

She died surrounded by the ones she loved, at home.

Her husband has also has a lot of health problems.    I don't want to say it out loud, but I fear for him now.

They were so much younger and full of energy and love of life when I first met them.  So was my mother in law, and my spouse's aunt who is 99, and my good friend's mother, who is 92 [she passed away in 2013], and....

Like all of us, I must come to terms with my aging.   I may be looking at my eventual fate.  And perhaps that is what is affecting me now, as much as the passing of a woman great in her own way.

As Bette Davis once said "Old age is no place for sissies."

9 comments:

  1. They talk about "aging gracefully", and some people do. But as more and more of us are living longer...my late father died at 88 of, among other things, Parkinson's. I don't know which was worse, the physical disabilities, the inability to perform simple daily functions, or the dementia that accompanied his physical decline. Horrible, horrible disease.

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  2. So true, all of this. My own mother is dealing with dementia now. It's a blessing for her that it's progressed to the point where she no longer remembers how sharp and active she used to be except as a fact, like the fact that she used to have a dog. She's emotionally detached from what she's lost, where it used to hurt her deeply to think about the self so recently past. This mother is a lot sweeter than that one, but I miss that one.

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  3. The thing that is so strange to me about aging is that I just don't feel my age on the inside. But I sure do feel (and look) like it on the outside.

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  4. That is what I fear about getting old. I fear the time when I will have to depend on others to take care of me.

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  5. I have been blessed with genetics that should keep me going strong and healthy until I'm quite advanced in age, and I've seen members of my family who are fit and of sound mind into their 90s and longer. However, there is no denying, aging isn't easy. Even getting into my mid-forties, my body often has to remind me that I'm not 20 anymore!

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  6. You said it. Such a sad story.

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  7. Beautiful tribute and remembrance. I've experienced this with my maternal grandmother before she passed away and didn't really know anybody - yet kept talking about my grandfather as if he was there with her, even though he passed away years before she did.

    I am fast approaching 60, and I'm trying to keep my mind busy and continually learning, to ward off any of these "old age" issues.

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  8. I believe the elderly are lot better off now then in past. A lease we have options.
    I don't know what it is when an older person break there hip they seem like it takes a major tole on them...But it better then it use to be.
    Coffee is on

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