The topics of blog posts here have always followed from my own current interests about ageing. Sometimes a checklist on how to avoid falling, for example, a complaint about misguided politicians threatening Medicare and Social Security or, starting three years ago, what it's like to live with a terminal disease.
Now, I've read your many wonderful responses to Wednesday's post about living with the new-ish knowledge that the end of my earthly journey approaches.
Your kindness about this journal overwhelms me. Modesty leads me to dismiss you who comment here as giving me way too much credit. But. But. There is something else now: you, your attention and your responses have fulfilled a lifelong dream.
Let me explain.
While reading your comments on Wednesday's post (along with others in the near past), I recalled a time back in my teen years when I was hanging out alone in my bedroom one day. Probably I was 15 or 16 years old, getting toward the end of high school, and I was thinking about what I wanted to do with my life.
Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief? Actually, in the mid-1950s, there was not much for a girl to aspire to be except nurse, teacher, office worker and, of course, mother. None excited me. The only thing I actually wanted was to do something that made a positive difference in the world.
But what? I had no idea how I could do that. I continued thinking about it, looking for inspiration that never materialized. And when the thought occasionally popped up during adulthood, I still didn't know. Charitable giving isn't what I ever had in mind about this goal.
After graduation, there was a single imperative, to support myself. One thing led to another and after a few years of going-nowhere office jobs, I ended up with a long and varied media career – radio, television, internet. It was always an interesting way to pay the bills but I never confused it with making a difference in the world.
When paid employment came to an end in 2004, I had already begun this blog to record what I was learning from my spare-time, personal research into old age.
Back then, nearly everything written about it was negative. Getting old was mostly made out to be a fate worse than death and one was urged to do everything possible to avoid it or spend a fortune trying to look younger than we were.
For a long time, I was pretty much alone in the blogosphere – or anywhere else - trying to explain how foolish and life-defeating it is to spend up to a third of one's life disliking, even hating the number of one's years.
(That's no longer so. There are encouraging signs of individuals and people who are now called influencers taking a more positive view of age. Which is not to say that there isn't still too much television and internet advertising about how to look young forever. But it is changing. Slowly.)
Reading your comments Wednesday and again on Thursday, I had a revelation. I realized that I need to drop the phony modesty I have harbored through these 16 years and accept that the many people saying similar things about what they take away from this blog must be true.
Listen to just a few of them:
“You’ve inspired me to live fully, absorb losses, treasure surprises, and fume with passion.” (Paula)
“You inspire us to carry on with dignity no matter what misfortune may befall us.” (Ruth Marchese)
“[Y]ou helped me find an approach to aging.” (Mary Jamison)
“YOU are definitely having an impact and a very positive one!” (Rebecca Ann Magalhaes)
“This has helped me in giving workshops and also in living my own truth...”
“Each of us carries something we learned from you, and we will keep sharing that with others.” (Wendl Kornfeld)
“A small plea. I hope your words of wisdom, as also peoples' comments, remain available for solace.” (Mary S)
Yesterday, I decided to believe you all (why would you bother to write such things if you did not believe them?) and in that moment, realized that here in old age, I have finally fulfilled my teenage dream.
I am awed and pleased that you find inspiration in my writings. I don't plan it that way, you know. Before cancer and COPD, I was exploring old age and passing on what I learned.
These past three years (Three years? It has gone by in a flash.), I have written about facing a terminal illness to find out what I think and how I feel in this predicament. In the process I find now that it has been important to you.
(Oh my god, is this my Sally Field moment? Oh well.)
I am thrilled. And weepy. Without you, I would never have understood that you, all of you, made my youthful dream come true. What an extraordinary gift. I am humbled and thank you with all my heart.
* * *
Now a couple of related housekeeping items.
In answer to Mary S's “plea” above. A few months after I was diagnosed, I asked the people at Typepad, the internet company that hosts this blog, what it would cost to purchase five years of hosting so it will be here for at least that long after I die.
They responded immediately, making my account free. They have always been an excellent host, hardly any down time in more than 16 years and excellent customer support via email – usually within an hour or two.
Also. On Wednesday several commenters sounded a bit like they expected TGB to end soon, something I interpreted to be within weeks or a couple of months.
Of course, I have no idea how long I will be here and I do not know how the course of the disease will affect me either physically or emotionally. But for the foreseeable future, I will publish here as usual.
That might seem odd to some – to keep scribbling away while facing the great unknown. But for 16 years, TimeGoesBy has given form and focus to my days. That is still true. So I will keep writing it for as long I can. It's what I do.