“Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” YES WE CAN!

April 4th, 2016 by elaine

Shortly after the middle of March I had an epiphany, my thinking changed, and the whole rest of my life has changed as well.

I think of it as “a sudden realization” , and it was,  but an epiphany doesn’t  happen without a whole lot of ground work coming before it.  Like a scientist working diligently to find a cure for something and doesn’t find it but finds something extraordinary just the same, something she couldn’t have looked for because she had no idea it existed or was even possible.  Sometimes it is just there, right there, and she didn’t see it, perhaps no one  did.

In December I had another birthday.  There are certain birthdays that are more significant than others – like 30 or 40 or 50…but for me those numbers were no big deal.  I remember 31 however, Wow!  I was not just 30, I was 31!!! OMG!  Somehow or other the 0 is nothing more than a big pond, a dip in the pool of life, hey feels good.  The 1 is a dash of ice water – you are really on the other side.  Uh-oh!

And then 2, 3, 4, 5, you get used to it.  For me being 85, all last year until almost the last day of December was a dip in the pond.  And then, being 86 was the ice on the branch that could crack at any time.

It seemed nationally, universally agreed upon.  It seemed I was hearing it from friends, from the family, from the internet!

Have you filled out your mandate of final wishes? (No forced feeding, no feeding tubes, no insane surgery, no extreme medication, no resuscitation….nothing thank you!)

Did you consider where you will go when you can’t do the stairs?

Who will help you when you can’t get to the bathroom?

Did you fill out that mandate yet?  It’s really important.

And then the loving suggestions about housing from dear ones….(I won’t go there…)  I won’t make light of it, it is really really important.  All that stuff.  You read about it, you see it on TV, you hear about it from friends.  Be prepared!

I felt like I was being rushed down the slippery slope of the rest of my life.  And I said NO!  I said DON’T RUSH ME!  I said, I HAVE A WAY TO GO, BACK OFF!  Or maybe I don’t.  Who knows?  We just assume, don’t we?  We assume we will be around for a while, around and, dare I say, in tact?

In 2011, 14.9% of Canadians 65 and older were living with Alzheimers and other dementias.

YIKES!  Cool it, people, cool it. Let’s see if we can put that another way:

In 2011, 85.1% of Canadians 65 and older were totally free of Alzheimers and other dementias. YES!!!

So I made up my mind I would change my ways – I would get rid of a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t really need, historical and other; I would clear it out, get rid of it, lighten my load, make some space in my home, simplify.  And I actually began to do it.  I couldn’t believe it was me.  Shredding and making piles of clothes to give away, whisking it all into delivery systems.  It felt terrific.

And then other things occurred.  And I realized I had some mental house cleaning to do as well.  I realized there was stuff in there I did not need to haul around with me.  Garbage, Out!

I have to say, sometimes it is easier to give away a dress I loved, the sweaters I made, than it is to let go of the stinking human garbage that surrounds my tender feelings.  But I am determined.   And I feel lighter, more open to joy, ready for fun, for new adventures.  It’s amazing!  I feel so free I remembered a quote I put in my quote book when I was a mere child:

Freedom comes with the decision; it does not wait for the act. William Faulkner

George, too, he’s all for it, for us to be free together making our way boldly, at times gingerly, down that slippery slope. (This sounds very romantic, and perhaps it is.  But part of my sorting and cleansing process includes the necessity to be real and to be honest, and the truth is I hate the assumption that “romantic” is a special quality that does not include fighting and swearing and name-calling.  If it does, then exclude us from that category, PLEASE!)

We have put the beautiful incredible apartment we have loved so much for twenty-five years on the market.  We have almost for sure found an incredible place to rent – though make no mistake, the rental did not precede or immediately follow the listing.  We made our leap into space, as we have done before, risking that we would -  like the squirrels we scream at on our back balcony, find a limb to cling to and not fall.

YES WE CAN talk about things more pleasant, have another adventure, be the people we are….as long as we know who, exactly, we are!
©Elaine A. Zimbel 2016

Posted in Cabinet Privé, Eighty and then some..., Health Care, Uncategorized, We Don't Talk About That...


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