The Beginning of Aging. I Think.

It may have started a while back, but I wasn’t paying attention.  I know that the battle with gravity started precisely on my 40th birthday.  My boobs began sleeping under my armpits, and my chins started fighting for real estate on my neck.  It’s not pretty.  I have managed to avoid wrinkles, which is good- but I have this visual of waking up one morning and looking like a shar pei that got stuck in a bag of prunes.  I’m hoping to make it the next 13 months until I turn 50 without too much drama.  I’m just getting used to the stuff that has already started.  There should be a manual.  “The Idiots Guide to Aging”…..something.

My ability to read without glasses is long gone, and now I fuddle around with trying to be sure I don’t jump to a higher level of magnification of reading glasses too soon, thus making my eyes older or something.  I just want to be able to read the microfilm print in the phone book, and get through the grocery store knowing what I’m buying.  It would be sad to get bath oil to make salad dressing.  When I get desperate, I wear two pairs of glasses at the same time, especially for the phone book. I say it’s a conspiracy to make us all just stop calling people or places. Apple is probably trying to get us all to rely on Siri. That bothers me.  I don’t want to talk to inanimate objects at my age.  I could get put away in some place with ‘Shady’ or ‘Acres’ in its name.  I’m too young for AARP, but I’m plenty old enough for the nuthouse.

Sneezing and coughing hard have become interesting attempts to keep all ‘spraying’ contained to a tissue, but I’m finding that there are other parts that also spray mildly when agitated.  I’ve tried Kegel’s, but nada. They can’t help one of those allergy sneezes designed to clear pollen from the last three years. Nope. I can still sneeze a ‘normal’ sneeze without needing hipwaders, but I’m wondering if those days are numbered.

Something I am enjoying about getting older is not having to worry about the mean girls.  Nobody cares if I go to the grocery store in lavender shorts and a green shirt.  I try to ‘match’, but if I’m getting close to laundry day, and choices are limited, I don’t lose sleep over it. If it’s clean, it ‘matches’.  Nobody cares if my car is 14 years old.  Or if my tennis shoes are from K-mart circa 2002.  It’s all a non-issue.  And that is nice.  I never really cared anyway, but it’s nice not to have any petty condescension to avoid.  Bah.

My memory is pretty good. I can describe the floor plan of the place I lived when I was 2 years old.  Don’t ask me what I did this morning.  I’ve also got the added bonus of chemobrain from 19 months of chemotherapy for leukemia.  They say that can make a person fuzzy for a while.  I’m kind of fuzzy. That is probably the correct term. I’m not demented yet, and I’m pretty sharp in most areas of my life, but there are cobwebs.

I got to shave my head and not worry about what people think of it.  I don’t have to look at it, and it’s helpful for my weird heat intolerance (and I haven’t hit menopause yet).  I’m going to see a surgeon about some cysts on my scalp, and don’t want to look like I have mange, so had the cosmetologist mow it down. One of the other cosmetologists was sweeping the fallen hair; he looked at me and said “Girl, we could make a fur coat out of this”…. precisely the problem. It’s hot.  I may never let my hair grow back.  I’m old enough that nobody cares.

I’ll be glad when I’m through menopause, but I haven’t even started yet.  I’ve already got a major problem with heat. Hot flashes could be a bit dicey.  I’ve served my time riding the cotton pony.  I’m tired of Aunt Flow visiting.

I’ve debated how to deal with chin and lip hairs. Pluck, shave, or rip off with goo that sticks to the surrounding skin as well.  Right now, I can get away with plucking, provided I check on things with the right strength of reading glasses. I had one hair on my inner arm hit an inch long before I even knew it was there.  That’s a little embarrassing when I think about how long it might have been waving in the breeze before I tweezed it to death.

Overall, I’m surviving getting older. Senescence.  The process we’ll all face.  It’s interesting at times, and since I spent years working as a nursing home RN, I know what could be coming.  I’m lucky. Physically,  I’m already a train wreck on a good day, but so far, I can’t say that getting older is making life anything but better, at least mentally. The ‘little’ things really don’t matter. The big things are more appreciated. The ‘medium’ things are a sign that I’m still moving along.  Aging isn’t for sissies, but I think I’ll be OK.  🙂

Forgiveness

It’s not about the other guy. It’s not about the person who has caused pain. It doesn’t mean that ‘presto’, everything is OK about what happened.  It doesn’t mean you condone anything that happened to you. It doesn’t mean you will ever have that person in your life. It doesn’t mean you go on as if nothing happened.  It doesn’t mean that you have to deny your feelings about what they did. It doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t mean you have to do it perfectly all at once.

Forgiveness means you don’t let that person continue to run your life through frequent thoughts about them.   It means that you let go of wanting more revenge. It means you let God have the final say in how that person is judged.  It is an act of obedience as described in Matthew 7 (Bible). It’s about the relationship you have with God, not the perpetrator.  It means that you can turn over the feeling that the perpetrator stole your life.

Forgiveness is not a feeling- it is an action and choice.  The feelings come later. Forgiveness takes the person who hurt you, and moves them out of the forefront of your life. Forgiveness allows you to move forward.  It takes the painful events and people and puts them where they belong…in the past.  🙂

But first, have you forgiven yourself for anything you’ve done to impede your life? 

The Little Things That Made Her Her…

My mom died in March 2003.  She had survived cancer multiple times (breast x 2, lung, brain).  She got through surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation.  And lived 17 years longer than her last cancer diagnosis.  What was worse than all of that was the dementia caused by the radiation to her brain.  It sucked the life out of her one cell at a time.  For over ten years.

When dad was going through her clothing to decide what was going to be donated to charity thrift stores, he had me come over to be sure there wasn’t anything I wanted.  I was fairly certain I could go on with life not owning her socks. There were very few items I wanted- the Christmas sweater she wore so much when I first moved back, and some goofy shoelaces she got at the San Diego Zoo.  That was pretty much it. In her ‘normal’ state, she never would have worn goofy shoelaces.  She could be a bit on the prissy side, and only pricey name brand shoes with the shoelaces they came with would do.

Dad and I were getting to the end of the stuff he wanted to go through, and we came across a rather dull shoebox.  I opened the lid, and that’s when I lost it.  Inside, her  hairbrush and make-up case (still with the make-up she hadn’t worn for years in it) were like a time capsule.  Dad did a good job of keeping her clean and dressed, but in mom’s ‘normal’ days, she had herself put together  from head to toe.  Her hair was perfect, and she always had make-up on in just the right amount.  I couldn’t let go of that make-up case or hairbrush.

Some of the things mom did when she was demented were SO unlike her.  She had always been so mannerly and socially proper.  With the dementia, she was clueless. She’d munch on the shrimp ring at holiday events as if it were for one person- HER !  When she’d get done on the bedside commode, she didn’t wash her hands unless she was told to and given the supplies. She had no problem immediately reaching  for the gumdrop jar I kept for her when she and dad visited. If  dad couldn’t get to her fast enough,  she’d be happily munching on gumdrops.  She was generous however, and would offer those gumdrops to me after her unwashed hands had been wandering through them.  “No thanks, Mom- I’m good.  You can have them…”.  I’m so glad she didn’t know how far she’d sunk.  It would have finished her.  The disease was making a mockery of her former self.

She never left her bedroom (with adjacent bathroom) in the morning without putting on her make-up and doing her hair the way she wanted it to look.  I don’t remember her ever having breakfast in her robe. She was always dressed and ‘made up’.

I’ve still got those personal things in that shoebox, along with assorted sympathy cards and things from the memorial service.   I never had any real use for them, but they represented what she’d been like.  They gave me back a piece of who she was before dementia took one piece of her at a time, over a year at  a time until she no longer was who she had been.  In many ways, the mom I knew was never going to leave that box.  So I had to keep it.