The REAL Old Age Dilemma

Remember back when you were 55 or even 65. You THOUGHT you were old and wise. Yes, indeed, you knew what you were talking about and by golly, people should listen and take your ideas to heart. Remember that...or maybe you just turning that age and you think you know it all. Period!

I was like that. In fact I began writing this blog back in 2006...15 years ago when I was a young 64. My husband and I had been retired 9 years and had traveled to Europe and the middle east. At the age of 64, I felt like an expert on so many things.


When we were young and knew it all!
BUT the one thing we did not understand was the process of aging and how we would feel at 75 or 80 or 85. We had some pretty strong feelings about that stage of our life but we truly had no idea...none at all! Another chapter was waiting out there for us.

Happy Hour in the RV resort
I can remember that group of friends we had when we were living in a RV resort here in Tucson AZ. They were older than my husband and I used to think there was magic in the water that kept them young and enthused. Even though we had cocktails every evening in the winter, we did not really get to know each other that well. Oh we had a feeling of great affection for each other but most of our conversation were about the past. And it was very interesting. But we did not share in the health issues that faced us all. When one of us died, it truly was a surprise.

So, in my mind, I came to the conclusion that aging was not going to be hard or even uncomfortable. I swore that my husband and I were not going to go into the night moaning and groaning. That is still my greatest hope. I wanted to be like them. The truth is I had no idea what they were going through behind closed doors.

There are, however, a few people that I have known as close friends for many years. We are so close that it is as though we are sharing each others thoughts. I am sure you have friends like that. They are always there.

Carole on the left...bocce ball in the park

My close friend Carole is one of a kind. She is so wise yet childlike in many ways. The qualities she possesses make her unique. Her husband, Kenny, like the rest of us love her to pieces. She has so many friends here in Tucson and back in Washington state that it would be arrogant to claim her as our own.

But Carole's life is not perfect.

Carole had surgery again this last week...again I say. It seems her body is frail and has been failing her. This time she was a surgery of many hours on her back and the ordeal left her feeling worse than ever. On top of that an old surgery is failing and it could be the breaking point for her.

I visited Carole the other day and we sat down and talked the way we always have. I guess she does this with everyone. But when you sit with her, you feel very special. We talked about her first marriage and what people think of us and then the conversation turned to our quality of life.

See, the thing is Carole would golf 7 days a week if she could. She is or was moving all of the time. Her knees would bounce up and down when she sat still. Now she can hardly walk across the room. The pain is in the old surgery on her hip. It is not a good quality of life at all. If you have endured cancer or knee surgeries or prolonged illness, you know what I mean. There is a choice to be made...are you willing to fight for your life betting that you will get better and live on? Is it worth the pain and suffering. Or will you sit down in a place where there is no pain and nap, read, watch tv and do puzzles. For Carole, friends would play a big part in her life. For me friends are hard won and far between. 

There you have it. What would you choose?

Then all of those things that we as women have done is as wives and mothers came to mind. We wondered at the fact that we have cleaned the kitchen sinks, toilets, tile floors and dusty furniture for all of our adult years...and each time we do it we know that we will need to do it again tomorrow or the next. Men have those same unending jobs and for some, they include those cleaning chores.

I really am coming to the conclusion that this next stage of aging is not about aging...it about just getting tired and bored and well, fed up. We made the leap to change when we retired and both Carole and I embraced that life and grew with that time in our life. We had it figured out and we were cruising...then a fourth stage, the real old age came and I suppose we were surprised. What is this all about?

I still have those ideas and dreams about new things, travel and even new clothes. My health is reasonably well. The challenge of keeping it that way is interesting I think. I love to cook and write and created and work hard. My husband and I just bought a bigger house here in Tucson after selling a fixer we bought 3 years ago. But, if we were in constant pain, what would we decide to do? I just don't know. 

What would YOU do or what have you already done?

Take care.

b+

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Comments

  1. Dear Barbara, on April 1st, I turned 85. Like you, aging has been, for me, a surprise. My parents died young (mom was 58; dad was 69) as did my grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles. So, in a real sense, I've not had mentors in aging. Yet, that's really not true--I've not had family mentors. I have had friends. They, too, are now dying and going into a space and time that is unknown to me. Two of them especially have been "aging mentors": Bob, who died in 2019 at the age of 93, and Pat, who died the same year at the age of 86. Both showed me the truth of a quotation of I have taped to my computer. It's by Marcel Proust: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes." And that's what the passing years are giving me--the gift of new eyes to see what was hidden in a glass darkly from me for so many years--the years I spent getting to this moment in time. Peace.

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