A few years ago Carol, my wife, her sister Judi, and I wrote a blog about caregiving for aging parents. The aging parents are gone and so is the blog, but one piece I wrote sticks with me. Watching the decline. I wrote the piece about Frank, Carol’s and Judi’s dad who went into a serious decline in his ’90s.
Frank is gone, so now I am watching my own decline. I had it come home to me when I forgot where I parked the car in downtown Minneapolis and spent three hours searching for the damn thing. By the time I found it I was tired, relieved, and a bit ashamed. Not finding the car has always been a problem for me, a function of my ADD. I keep a little yellow ball on the radio antenna of my pickup so I can see it in the parking lot. Losing the car for three hours is a new one, however. Yes, I have a GPS in my cell phone.
Losing the car is only one symptom. My knee, wrist, shoulder, and back hurt. I fall down. I can’t remember names. Carol and I make a plan every week, and I forget what I am supposed to do. I go downstairs to get something, do three other things and end up back upstairs without what I went for. Three times.
I will be 74 in October. What do I have left? Ten, maybe fifteen years? Aging is reality for me. Usually I take these things in stride. After all what is important is the moment, which is almost always pretty good. The trip to Minneapolis threw me into something of a funk. I got scared when I couldn’t find the car. I went to help my brother-in-law, who is facing some aging issues as well. I still haven’t recovered from the trip.
My life is good. We have a nice home and garden, good things to do, travel some, and have fun together. I can write, which I was unable to do until the last few years after getting diagnosed and treated for ADD. I have gone places and done things. I can ( http://www.insightmeditation.org/ )meditate which I could not do for most of my life. I have found an important role as family caregiver. Caregiving is especially meaningful because it didn’t exist in my family.
The meditation has opened up a spiritual life I have sought since I first asked “Why?”. I now know the answer: Because. The secret to because is becoming. The sun is up every morning. The birds sing, even if I have trouble hearing them. The new in my life outweighs the difficulties. Most of the time. I get myself in trouble when I stare at that unknowable wall out there. If I stay where I belong, here and now, I’m fine. Events, however, sometimes present that wall-my brief time on this world and in this body. I’ll get through it. Writing this has already helped.