“Caring for Mom during her final three months was the most profound and powerful experience of my life. It was a gift, a grace, a blessing I would wish upon everyone.”
That’s a quote from the penultimate chapter of my “mom series” recounting the time I spent taking care of my mother 24/7 at the end of her life. It is still true. Now, 15 years later, that event has a companion – the responses from you, so many of you, about shutting down Time Goes By.
When I posted that entry (not unplanned, but in a snit), I snapped shut the laptop and took the rest of the day off from the computer. Checking email the next morning was shocking as the messages poured into my email box – some of them comments, others private email.
And that was just the beginning. They kept coming that day and the next and the next. For a few moments, as I began reading, I thought, “yeah, yeah, yeah, they’ll get over it.” And then, as I continued, I was ashamed of that quick take. Most of us sometimes say mean or nasty things in a fit of anger that we are sorry for later. But no one says nice things they don’t mean.
While I read message after message, tears dribbled down my cheeks, as they are again now as I try to write this.
I honestly had no idea – none – that so many people think this blog space is important. A bunch of people who have never commented delurked to ask me to reconsider. I heard from an old friend I haven’t spoken with in nearly a decade who, unbeknownst to me, has been reading this blog.
I didn’t know (or had forgotten) how many of you I encouraged to start blogging. And others who have a new and better feeling about getting old from reading Time Goes By. I am overwhelmed, abashed and pleased to hear that TGB has made a difference in people’s lives.
You must have guessed that those lightweight reasons for quitting I gave in Monday’s post were not the whole story. Although in the past few days, you have raised my spirits, for some time I have been increasingly weary - having what has been/continues to be a dark night of the soul:
- Our country’s slippage into an authoritarian state while the big-time media entertain us to death is deeply disturbing. S.1959 is only the latest and most frightening manifestation of it and if you don’t believe that, you are part of the problem. Author Naomi Wolf knows what she’s talking about.
- Ordinary living - just the day-to-day stuff of trying to keep a job, get the kids raised, pay the bills and have enough left over for a restaurant meal or a modest vacation – has become demonstrably harder for almost everyone, out of reach entirely for many. And it has gotten worse in the past seven years. I keep wondering how much responsibility I have for that. We each bear some of it.
- Our food is tainted, our water resources are drying up, children’s toys are killers and everyone with the power to make changes cares more about their corporate donations that the lives of citizens.
- I watch the presidential debates, read the candidates’ policy statements and keep my eye on what’s said and done by the president and in Congress. I am struck, in its simplest description, by how mean our leaders are, particularly Republicans and the right-wing, although it is not limited to them. There is money to kill our young soldiers in a war no one understands the reason for and none to give poor children health care.
- Hedge fund managers are paid more that a billion dollars a year in salary - think of it! - but pay only 15 percent tax and squawk when it is suggested they should contribute more to the common good.
- Leaders have recently begun throwing around the phrase, World War III, as though it is a fait d’accompli, and that scares the hell out of me.
- On a personal level, I was advised by Social Security last week that a nasty, little regulation no one knows about (or, I didn’t) will cut my benefits next year enough that I cannot meet my bills. I need to find work and I’ve never been any good at it. I doubt I'm alone in this event.
As Sir Bob Geldoff once said, “If you’re not grumpy, you’re not paying attention.”
In addition to all the lovely messages here and by email, so many of you have written blog posts about my shutting down Time Goes By that I don’t remember who, but someone said my posts have been quite dark lately. I suppose that’s true. It is because we are living in dark, dismal times that cannot be dismissed as politics as usual. Terrible things are happening and it is much worse on many levels than it has ever been in my lifetime.
With all that, your messages have touched me more than I know how to say (it is hard not to pull a Sally Field here). I cannot answer so many individually and I’m sorry about that. But I have read all of the them several times each (oh, shit, I’m tearing up again) and I will quote one that we should all, in our old age, take seriously.
David Wolfe thinks he writes about marketing at his Ageless Marketing blog. He really writes – oh, so eloquently - about how to engage the late years of life, our needs, our duties and responsibilities to ourselves and to the world. I’ve never told him this, but I consider him my mentor in studying and writing about aging. Once again, he has shown me the way. He left, in part, this message:
“As we move deep into our later years we lessen the burdens of age by what we give the world outside our skin. Jung, Maslow, Erikson and other luminaries who have deeply studied the aging spirit talked much about that. Erikson called it ‘generativity.’ Maslow called it transcendence of personal need in service of personal growth. Jung called it ‘letting go of the ego’ on the way to self-realization.
“In a sense, our lives are our own only in the procreational years of our lives. Beyond those years it is in our genes to move beyond the self on behalf of the next generation, the village, the species.”
David’s wisdom, combined with the hundreds of other messages I never guessed would come my way, made the decision for me. Time Goes By will continue and I am glad to be back with, thanks to David, a new perspective. My only regret is that I feel bad about all of you who wished me good tidings - a bit like having attended the funeral only to find it was a practical joke.
A few things will be different:
- Any reader may trash me or my thoughts, but only in public. Private emails of that sort will be deleted and no longer acknowledged. (You regulars at that know who you are.)
- Do keep recommending blogs for the Elderbloggers List; it is to all our benefit to discover new ones. I will add them or not and if I don’t add one, don’t ask me to explain myself.
- Most important: I have felt confined in the past year or so limiting posts to aspects of aging and I realize now I am guilty, in that regard, of ageism not dissimilar to much of the media who write only about health and financial matters in relation to old people as though that is all we care about. So although aging will remain the focus of Time Goes By, subject matter will range further afield in the future. We live too much now in dangerous times not to do so.
During my paid career, I traveled most of the U.S. and a lot of the world, often first class, on someone else’s dime. I worked with kings and queens and movie stars and heads of state, and I had a wonderful time with access few people get to the original sources of almost any information I wanted. No small thrill for someone to whom information and knowledge are manna.
Without negating that, the best time I’ve had in my life, the happiest I’ve been at what I do, is producing Time Goes By. Thank you – each one of you – for inviting me back. “It is a gift, a grace, a blessing.”
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Grannymar gives us a lovely story about the things that become family heirlooms titled Donal's Cot.]