Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You Just Never Know

In 26 days I'll turn 49. That's a four PLUS a nine and I am losing my (aging) mind.
How in hell did I get to be 49? I still feel 14 in my head; I am quite immature. Someone farts around me and I laugh. I get much enjoyment watching a dog chase its tail. Cartoons still crack me up. I know every word of every song from Disney's Frozen. (I saw the movie twice, by myself.)
Then I wake up each morning, feeling cadaverous: stiff, I mean. The back, the neck, the shoulders, the knees, my right ankle. Left wrist.
And I am (only?) 48. What will 58 feel like? Seventy? Eighty? Will I be too stiff to stand erect? Will I be one of those humped-back women I see pushing the grocery cart?
Fortunately, my Uncle Neal called me, out of the blue, two nights ago. He was requesting a phone number that I didn't have, but given my reporting acumen, I was able to get what he needed within two minutes. (Sometimes I am truly awesome.)
Me with Uncle Neal, 2013

Here's the fortunate part: Uncle Neal, my grandmother's big brother (she died in 1985), told me, proudly, that he turned 89 five days ago. Eighty-nine years old and still capable of using the phone and hearing well enough not to ask, even once, What? I didn't hear you.
After congratulating him and promising to visit--I would bring a sugar-free cherry pie-- I told him I was turning 49 in less than a month. He laughed. (Swear, he laughed!)
"You're a baby," he said.
"Don't feel like a baby," I said.
"Every day's a gift," he said. "When do you think you might come visit? We're here all the time; can't go anywhere."
The "we're" is Uncle Neal plus his beautiful wife, Marcella. Each is home bound and in various stages of life-ending poor health. Marcella had a severe stroke about a year ago. Uncle Neal has congestive heart failure that has advanced. Hospice nurses come three times a week.
"What about the other four days?" I asked.
"We have round-the-clock care," he said. "Twenty-five hundred dollars a week."
I gasped. "A week?" Good God, I thought. Highway robbery.
"It's getting too expensive," he said. "That's a terrific amount of money every week."
I changed the subject. I become outraged and start feeling insane whenever the cost of elder care is being discussed. It's a hot-button topic for me, almost as bad as the immigrant-children issue that's bringing out the mean in people.
"When you were my age, did you think you'd make it to 89?" I asked my uncle.
He laughed again.
"Oh, no. No, no, no."
Suddenly I felt better about my upcoming birthday. Maybe I do have a few good (stiff) years left.

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