The carpeting in this apartment had needed replacing for awhile. I had been working up to getting it done when I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017. Because I did not expect to live more than a year, I couldn't see any good reason to spend a moment of that time or money on carpeting.
Three years later now, they say I'm eligible for hospice (a euphemism for you have fewer than six months left) and however shabby it looks, I really do not care a whit about new carpeting.
Priorities change pretty quickly when the doctors say you don't have long to live.
Some people in my predicament make bucket lists. Two people have even asked me (in jest, I hope, but I can't be sure) if I've started working on mine. Certainly not. And I have always disliked the idea so much I might never forgive screenwriter Justin Zackham for giving us that ubiquitous phrase.
Instead and without putting much thought to it, I simplify daily life. Or, perhaps what I mean is that I have followed new inclinations as they have appeared and continue them if they serve me well enough.
A week or so ago, I was enjoying how comfortable sweat pants are and wondered why I have only one pair. I could use a couple more in different colors, I thought. Then I remembered: Oh, right. I won't be here a whole lot longer so what's the point.
Except when I change the linen, I don't make the bed anymore. You would be surprised how exhausting that is with severe COPD so I skip it now. I don't like seeing an unmade bed when I walk into the room but it's an easy tradeoff to losing my breath and heaving for air.
During my first two or three television jobs on local morning shows in New York City in the 1970s, I was usually the politics and cooking producer. I got to work with such luminaries of the era's culinary world as Julia Child when she was a guest, Craig Claiborne, James Beard once, Burt Wolf and others. I learned a lot from them and enjoyed cooking ever after.
Until now. Not long ago, my interest just dropped away.
It pains me to admit this but after a lot of trial and error and thrown-out food, I rely on the only two frozen meals from the supermarket that I consider edible. They are necessary some evenings when I'm too tired for the effort involved to cook even the simplest dinner.
At this point, I don't worry about healthy food or balanced meals. I'm concerned about the number of calories to keep up my weight and I don't care where they come from. Ice cream plays large part now that the weather is warming up.
Occasionally I use food delivery but it's a habit I never developed BC (before Cancer, COPD, Coronavirus – take your pick) and have not been able to work up an interest now.
As I've discussed here before, until my inclinations lean otherwise, I will continue to write this blog and even though I appear to be slower at it than in the past, it doesn't fill even my much shortened days.
It's not that there is a scarcity of things to do. There is a lot of information to pull together so my affairs are not in too much disarray when I die. I'm not eager for that work, but it needs to be done.
There are books to read, a dozen or more as yet unopened ones, plus the old favorites I would like to at least dip into again if not entirely re-read. But I haven't worked out how to choose. I dither - while time slips away.
There are also the shelves and shelves and shelves of philosophers and other kinds of thinkers, a lifetime's effort to find answers for the big questions. Maybe there are ideas there that would mean something different at age 79 and on the verge of dying than in the prime of life at 20 or 30 or 40. How to choose? Don't look to me for an answer.
A larger number of TGB readers than I would have guessed have asked about making this blog into a book. Just this week, Millie Garfield's son, Steve, emailed with information on how to easily do that online. It's a good idea that I appreciate but I doubt I will find the energy. The smallest things, these days, take more effort than I can muster.
Here are just a few things that make me grateful to be this old and unwell in the 21st century and not the 19th:
Washers and dryers
Stoves and refrigerators
Indoor running hot and cold water
Central heating and air conditioning
Think of how hard everyday life would be without them. I never appreciated until now how exhausting getting through each day must have been throughout history until a hundred or so years ago. No wonder people generally died younger than we do.
There must be others of you reading this who are going through similar changes.