The Gifts of Age: Part Five: If Old Age is Better than the Alternative, We Are All in Deep Doggie Doo
People talk about the stress of being a working mom, as if stress ends when either or both jobs stop. Who are they trying to kid?
Old lady stress is 24/7.
At night, as soon as you get your pillow nest all arranged to support aching backs and knees and burrow gratefully into it, doubt enters the room. Did I lock the doors? Did I turn off the stove? Did I switch the wet wash to the dryer? Did I take my pills? Yes, I think I did all that tonight. No, that was last night. Oh hell, I better go check.
Then, because your bladder is your only body part that’s gotten more active with age, there are at least three trips to the john every night. And since your early warning system is now deceased, these are made at warp speed, even on a walker. Panic is a great motivator. There should be an olympic competition for this. You wake up tired and wonder why.
The disconcerting end to what seemed like a reasonably nice day is realizing that you have gone all over town smiling today without your upper dentures.
It’s hardly uplifting to look up phone numbers in your personal directory, when it lists more dead people than living. And even after purging the lists, in six month’s it’s already back to gone again.
The first stage of dementia is becoming childlike in saying whatever you’re thinking out loud, then wondering why everyone is looking at you like you just farted.
The fact that you can’t introduce your best friend isn’t so bad, since she’s your age and can’t remember your name either. But when you mix up your grown son’s third wife’s name, it’s a whole different ball game.
When you see on face book that the younger members of your family are comparing miles walked or jogged each day, you think to yourself, If I had a pedometer, it would show at least ten miles walked each day looking for my glasses, my purse, and my coffee cup, coming back inside for my car keys, and going in and out of rooms at least three times each before I remember why I went in. No wonder I’m so tired at night.
Your new four letter word shouted frequently is WHAT? And a dinner party of peers is mostly everyone shouting WHAT? and then pretending to hear the replies. Though irritating, it doesn’t really matter much, since no one will remember anything by the time they get home anyway.
Cleaning gets increasingly complicated when vertical surfaces are covered with the latest in home decor for the elderly, post it notes. And there are also stacks of everything imaginable on all level surfaces, because now out of sight, means lost forever.
Sudden loud noises bring out homocidal urges you haven’t had since your kids were teenagers.
Your hearing turns mysteriously obscene, as you now confuse the initial sounds of words and can’t believe they are saying that on primetime TV.
Going to lunch with a friend involves a ten minute struggle to untangle the walkers from the back of the station wagon. And going to the mall with several friends is like a parade without a band, slow moving lines of walkers, the rolling kind.
When you express worry about some of the disasters being experienced by of others your age, your children encourage you to be thankful that’s not you. And you mentally add the word, yet.
Many weeks, if you didn’t go to so many funerals, you’d have no social life at all. And you remember that you used to wonder why your older friends were depressed.
When everyone’s talking about diets, you’re thinking, Sure. Like I’m going to give up my last pleasure in life, so I can look good in my casket.
Your grand and great-grandchildren are the bubbles of joy in the cesspool of old age, but also the barbs of reality. When sitting in your lap, looking up at you with their big innocent eyes, they ask, “Grandma, why do old people have turkey necks?”
And you grit your teeth and freeze a smile on your face, when your great-grandson proudly introduces his fiancee, the tattooed lady with enough metal appendages to set off airport security alarms.
There’s really only one thing worse than getting old, (I’m personally going to be really pissed if it turns out to be death). To me, it’s your husband getting old. Most of us thought if we married, we’d always have someone able to open jars, move heavy furniture, and clean the gutters. Another fairy tale bites the dust.
But other than these, old age is a piece of cake. Whenever you can get to the bakery.