This is Part 2 of the new series, The Wit and Wisdom of TGB Readers - today with a musical surprise at the end.
There is a motherlode of wisdom, inspiration, wit and humor in the comments section of a post last week. Among a variety of other, one theme was loss – the many kinds we encounter at this time of life which are closely related to limitations that we discussed on Monday.
Fatigue and Physical Decline
Before I get any further, let us remind ourselves that individuals age at dramatically different rates.
Some are in physical (and, sometimes, mental) decline by their fifties or sixties. Others (I am repeatedly surprised to find out how large the number is) are highly functional into their nineties and beyond. (Hello, Darlene Costner and Millie Garfield.)
I've learned a lot about overall tiredness and fatigue these past weeks with two in-hospital procedures. I'm still napping twice a day. Even without medical difficulties, youthful energy just isn't available anymore as the years pile up.
”I've reached the point at 81 where the ability (and/or money) to do many of the activities I once enjoyed are in dwindling supply,” writes Elizabeth Rogers.
“I used to enjoy my job, also gardening, decorating and shopping, among other things. I was able to donate to causes I support, political and otherwise. Now? Not so much.”
TGB reader Henry, who will be 91 in a couple of months, says he knows a lot about having to slow down:
”...it takes a lot of energy to get down the stairs to the laundry in the basement and back up again so I sit down to rest for a moment and then it’s time for a lunch and a short nap and I try to plant something in the garden and it’s time for Jeopardy.
“It’s so damn frustrating. Everywhere around me there are so many things shrieking at me 'Doo me!' If only I had more stamina.”
Giving Up Favorite Activities
It is not just slowing down. Sometimes it is chronic pain and/or conditions that force us to accept that we just can't keep up anymore. From Norma:
”Have recently been trying to come to grips with pain issues, old and new. After today's appointment I have agreed to try some new meds. I need to do something, but mostly I am angry that I may be having to settle with limitations I am just not ready to accept.”
And from David Newman:
”A harsh reality for me was knowing when to quit [blogging]. I stopped the last of my own life-long journalistic activities when I realized I could no longer meet deadline, thanks to health issues.”
Losing the Touchstones of Our Lives
It is not just that our worlds shrink as friends and relatives die. It is that they are gone forever, the people who made our lives warm and wonderful and whole.
(By the way, I've never understood how people say, “I loved him” or “I loved her” - past tense - sometimes a few minutes after the person dies. I still love all the people who are gone from my life, even decades later.)
”I could do without the 4-5 doc appointments a month,”Lyn Burstine tells us, “but maybe that's why I'm still here, having outlived all but one of my ancestors, and, sadly, many of my friends. And of those left, many now have dementia.”
Celia, who is 76, makes an important point about the loss of our culture along with that of loved ones:
”Aside from the deaths there is also a loss of some of what made me myself and where I came from. I have one younger sister who remembers me as child and our family life at that time, and one aunt and uncle who have made it together into their 90's. No one else.
“It's like we came from a culture that disappeared. Ancient history. I guess I am my own artifact.
The Ultimate Loss
During this past year of pancreatic cancer, survival and a couple of subsequent health risks, I've often said that I'm not done yet, that I have a few more things I want to do before I go.
My friend Jim Fisher talked about that too in regard to his volunteer work with our local City Natural Areas:
”I have a new worry related to my aging,” he writes. “...I worry that I may not live long enough to achieve everything I care about. It’s a new, nagging feeling, and one I try to dismiss.”
The ultimate loss, of course, is ourselves, fraught in many different ways depending on personal beliefs. Even with worry such as Jim's, I still believe deep inside that you and you and you will die but not me. I am the one immortal, (she cackled).
Which, of course, is stupid and what I really believe is that the most important job for each of us in old age is to come to an acceptance of our own mortality.
But we'll save that for another day.
Now, for reading through all this doom and gloom today, here is a treat for you. A new song from Willie Nelson who turned 85 last Sunday. It is titled, Last Man Standing and I know just how he feels. So, I think, will you. (You may need to go to YouTube to watch this. Just click the link in the image and it will open.)