Tag Archives: age

Back on the training treadmill

I don’t normally compete in July and August. For one thing, it’s stupid insane hot here.

And I have time to get caught up on other things, like doctor appointments, writing and maybe some real rest time.

But as that famous blonde singer once warbled, “Oops, I did it again.”

I signed up for another half-marathon. It’s not until next March, but ten months goes by faster than you want it to. One month you’re a lane lizard in the pool or strolling on beach sand like a tourist without a timetable, and the next thing you know, it’s time to pick up the race packet and goodie bag.

I have other events before March: a few swim meets, road races and three triathlons. Those need care, feeding and training, too. But the half-marathon was an event I swore I’d never do again after I did the Daytona Speedway-to-The-Beach-And-Back half a few years ago. It was a nice race (if you ignore the 3:30 a.m. wake up time to be parked by 4:30 a.m. for a 6 a.m. start thing, along with the 38-degree temperatures), but I figured by then, my distance days ought to be over. I was hurting so much at the end of that race, The Husband’s hope for a photo of me at the top of the track’s 31-degree banked Turrunsn 1 was just that – a hope.

Why do another half? A small desire for redemption mixed with a decent dose of insanity plus a need to defy the onslaught of age. I want to do a better job on the finishing time. And all of us who run are at least a little left or right of the center line of normal anyway. It’s not that age is showing or catching up. But little things are noticeable – injuries take longer to heal than they used to, and while I don’t require more rest, I seem to benefit from more of it.

I look at some of my friends, a few my age and some a little older, who are becoming burdened with the ailments of oncoming years. I don’t want life to get like that. I’m all for taking advantage of medical specialists, both Western and non-traditional practitioners, but I want to make the decision to do so because I am maintaining good health, not because I am fundamentally hurting.

Training has started, or in my case, just kicked up to a slightly higher level. I bow to all those who improbably and insanely choose to go back on their word and try something again, just one more time. I am one of you now. The Never Say Never Brigade.

 

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Filed under athletic competition, Exercise, Running, Swimming, thought, Triathlons

Sorting, Stacking and Shredding A Life

Mom’s gone. From entry into hospice to her final breath: thirty-six hours. It was peaceful and I don’t know if she knew we were there.

I’m relieved it’s over. My grieving process started long before now, long before she first became ill in November. Years ago, when the decline began, I knew we were headed for the end we got. The long, slow decline, the insistence that everything was fine, then the increasing meds and pain. The progression from slow walk to shuffle to cane to walker to wheelchair to hospital bed. Then the real decline, from an insistence on getting well, to a willingness to listen, to simply nodding at everything, to no communication at all, except to refuse food and wave away the emergency room doctors while shaking her head “no” as they stood over her with their tubes and IVs and syringes. She had no problem telling them it was time. She also had the legal paperwork detailing her wishes. All I had to do was enforce them.

I “womaned up” and told the doctors, “No more. She’s the mom, and she said so.”

And then the nice people from hospice step in, and make things peaceful until the end. Next you have to sort, sift, shred and tidy up the life that person left behind. Photos, tax papers, receipts, doctor bills, furniture, books, knickknacks, money, credit cards, jewelry, china, dishes, clothes – how did all this stuff fit in this space, anyway? And why is some of it here? So much of it seems so innocuous, so pointless to even store and keep in a one-bedroom apartment. But it all mattered to mom at some point in the past, if not the present.

While working through the apartment, we found a notepad on her dining room table. She had started writing her autobiography, perhaps as a memory exercise, possibly as something to leave the grandkids. She spoke about her childhood: the multi-family Brooklyn home she lived in, her father’s dairy store, her best friends, snowball fights and school crushes. She spoke about her marriage and early life raising three kids. Sadly, the memoir is unfinished. We will never know what she would have said about her long widowhood, or taking care of her aging mother and mother-in-law or her later life as she coped with losing her friends to the ravages of age. In some sense, I’m sorry about that unfinished story, because she wrote very well. But I like the idea of her story “ending” with the happy time, before age and illness and pain took over and brought us to this point.

Rest well, mom. We’ll keep writing the family stories in your honor.

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Filed under Aging, death, family, inspirations, Relationships, thought

$*!*# The Holidays, I’m Not Peaceful And Calm

The holidays don’t exactly suck this year, but they’re not the picture-perfect, Normal Rockwell illustration, either.

Mom is entering rehab/long-term care, and I need to be there tomorrow morning, with her personal items, so she can start some semblance of what will be the rest of  her life. Then I begin to shut down or suspend her old life. Phone, mail, cable, newspaper, banking, credit cards and all the everyday stuff many of us do without thinking will change. I am glad we are at the beginning of some form of closure, though I have no doubt that she will hate it – and me, particularly, for doing this. Anyone who’s faced with this decision understands the choice, or lack of it. Cannot stay alone, cannot afford the luxury of staying in one of our homes (none of us can quit our jobs), not ready to be at home with an aide.

None of us want it, for ourselves or anyone we care about. But it happens every day. I take some comfort in that. And some of my friends have been along for this messy train wreck of a ride, including many of my virtual posting friends, one of whom sent me a little holiday ditty, punning on my name, and those of a few other fellow board posters:

“Jake The Halls with Matzah Balls, iggy’s gettin’ jiggy, so is nancypooh. We’ll have lots of Matzah soup, iggy’s gettin’ jiggy, so is nancypooh. Don we now our chatting slouch wear, iggy’s gettin’ jiggy, so is nancypooh. A comfy bed is gently calling, iggy’s gettin’ jiggy, so is nancypoooooooooh.”

Heck, I thought it was cute. He made it up when I mentioned there was a distinct lack of Hanukkah music on the radio during the holidays, and I could not listen to one more rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” or “Little Drummer Boy” without pulling over to the side of the road and randomly shooting at passing cars. When your holidays aren’t going well, you hate to see anyone else having a good time. It just doesn’t seem fair.

But then you think about people who don’t have  jobs, and aren’t likely to find jobs anytime soon. About the servicemen and women who didn’t live to see the holidays, and their loved ones who will never see them again. About the elderly who live alone and have nothing to look forward to, not even a visit from a neighbor.  About the children who want what the other kids have, but those things aren’t possible when your family is homeless and living in a shelter, or a car.

None of this is meant to be a downer, or a lecture on  “don’t complain, someone else always has it worse than you.” It’s just a basis for comparison. Our situation can and will get better and be resolved. For many, there is no getting better, and in resolution, there is still no healing. I’ll take all the help I can get, whether it’s a  favor or a funny song from a friend.

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Filed under Aging, family, Holiday, Relationships

A Well-Planned Life Becomes One Day At A Time

My life has changed in the last few weeks. In a few short sentences, here is my situation:

  • Mom is sick. Mild heart attack, diabetes, and just plain old age issues.
  • Hospitalized twice in another county, I had to move her north for rehabilitation, to ease the travel stress on myself.
  • She’s improving, but it’s a one-day-at-a-time situation. As you can tell from the title, I’m not good at that kind of thing.
  • Next Monday will be a month since she landed in the emergency room. She has not been home since.

I’m a list maker, long-range planner and use a lot of notes and calendars to track what’s coming up tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. Having things come to a screeching halt because you have to be around to care for a sick family member isn’t something you’ll ever regret, but it can add some stress to your day, to say the least. Missed hours of work, fewer hours spent writing, no time for friends, holiday shopping, or even just sitting and thinking. Meals, when they happen, are too fast to be enjoyed. There’s a lot of time spent driving to and from her place to pick up mail and extra clothes, and not enough time to speak with her nurses, doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists and dietitians.

Worst of all, what happens if something happens to me? If I go down (I’m fighting a cold that’s been coming on for days now), then what? I’ve gotten some of the stupidest advice imaginable, well-meaning though it has been. “Don’t stress so much,” I’ve been told. “Just relax and don’t worry about her. She’ll be fine.” I’ve been asked to do volunteer work, or contribute money or attend events, and when I explain that I cannot do so and why, people are just dumbfounded that I could say no to them. And I’ve learned never to honestly answer the question “How are you doing today?” People do not want an honest response to that query, at least not from me, and not now.

No doubt Mom is under more stress than I am. It sucks to be sick, no matter what the cause. It’s worse to be old and sick, and wonder if that’s all that life has left. I hope I never get to that point. To be alone, ill and not contributing to society is not an end I would ever choose. I’m stressed, but glad she at least has me to be with her.

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Filed under Aging, family, Relationships

Warpaint, Makeup, Beauty Products…It’s All Cosmetic to Me

As an over-fifty woman, I know a little something about skin care and flaw coverage.

Yes, I said it. I don’t wake up looking ready to face the world each day. There is work to be done. A shower, hair and makeup takes me about a half-hour, but it’s thirty minutes I will not skip. I would consider it environmental pollution to do so. Not to mention the fact that my bare face would better serve as a fright mask than a reminder that an older woman is like a fine wine, getting better as she ages.

The cosmetics companies don’t let you forget that they offer the potions, lotions and antidotes to prevent and reverse the skin’s aging process, if only you’ll (stop gagging at the price and) invest in their worthy products. The thing I hate about their commercials is the models; young creatures with flawless skin, in need of absolutely nothing save a light dusting of powder to remove a tiny bit of their youthful, dewy glow, so viewers are not blinded by their radiance.

How stupid are we, to think that a week’s worth of anything from a jar or tube will make us look better at fifty than we ever did at thirty? Or twenty? And why do we keep trying products at the behest of well-meaning but dim-bulb “beauty consultants” at the mall or home parties, when the products cost more than a week’s worth of groceries, smell like a landfill on a summer’s day or make us look ill? Have you ever walked by a cosmetics counter, or been in the chair for a “free” makeover, and wanted to say any of the following out loud:

  • Honey, black eyeliner that thick went out years ago, unless you are using it as road striping, or going out at Halloween as Catwoman to the hubby’s Batman.
  • Two hundred dollars? For a one-ounce jar of face cream? Really? For that price, it should not only reduce wrinkles, it should take my car keys, find my car in the parking lot, pick me up at the door, drive me home and fix dinner.
  • I’m looking for a nice light foundation. Not clown plaster, not concrete-in-a-jar. If it comes with a little spoon-shaped like a trowel, it’s not my definition of light. And it doesn’t need to be in any shade known as “Celebrity Day-Glo Orange.” 
  • I like mascara. I need mascara. But there’s lash-lengthening and then there’s fuzzy hair extensions in a tube. I don’t want my eyes to look like Spidey’s cast his web there.
  • Miracle eye cream in that tiny little bottle, huh? I doubt it, unless the miracle involves me waking up each morning with my eye makeup fully on and done before I get out of bed, and we’re talking shadow, liner, brows and mascara. For that kind of money, that’s what I would expect.

I’ve been wearing makeup since I was a preteen. I wasn’t your typical kid, sneaking off to the drugstore to buy it, either. It was my mom’s idea. Even at age 13, she could tell I would need help. At least she had the sense to take me to a professional makeup artist to have it done right. So, my current obsession/addiction/need/reliance is my mother’s fault. Thanks, mom. Because of you, I may spend too much (though I do buy on sale with coupons), but I put my best possible face forward at all times.

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Filed under Aging, inspirations, thought, Uncategorized

Next Time Around, I’ll Ask For A Bigger Brain

I’m having trouble remembering stuff lately.

No dementia jokes, please. That’s not the problem; I’ve been tested.

Aging could be a contributing factor. Mostly, I think it’s a matter of too much $!*% sitting on my mental real estate, AKA my brain.

Until I turned forty, I never had trouble remembering things. Never used a calendar; I just knew when things were supposed to get done. I was, and I remain, very organized. The difference now: I need artificial intelligence to keep things together. I’ve previously written about the different calendar systems in my life, and my preference for the old-fashioned Page-A-Day books. But now I am starting to wonder: is the memory CD in my head nearly full and about to crash? Would a reboot help, or does it need replacing?

I know that many of my friends have busier, more hectic lives than mine. I have no idea, for example, how anyone with kids manages to keep it together these days. A home, cars,  jobs, school, after-school activities, doctors, shopping, holidays, friends, family – and that’s just the good stuff. How do they deal with the evil influences, like drugs, alcohol, sexting, smoking? Is there really enough space on a Blackberry, iPhone or in a parental brain to schedule discussions, appointments and meetings for all that? In the best of circumstances, you have two parents who work together as a team to make it happen. In the best case plus one, there’s another relative, or a nanny, or a neighbor who can step in as well.

But so many parents I know are doing their best as a solo effort. Some are truly single; some are married, but don’t have help from their spouse due to geographic separation, whether by military or job duties. Others have a partner, but that person chooses to take no active role in home life. This last situation is one I cannot comprehend; how does one person live in complete oblivion in a home with children who can always use another solid role model, to say nothing of love and discipline?

Regardless of how their home life looks, I have nothing but respect for people who raise kids, whether biological, step, adopted or grands, no matter how large the number of offspring.  I am on the market for a brain with more gigs of memory. And when I find it, I’ll gladly rent some space to any parent who needs it.

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Filed under Children, family, mental health, Relationships, technology, thought, Uncategorized

Are You Old, Elderly, Aged, Senior, Middle-Aged, or Just Experienced?

I have a friend I’ll call Miss Riggs, and she is a woman who has seen her share of  both terrible tragedy and wild good times. She lives independently, in what she calls a “granny shack,” built on the property of one of her kids. She has her own cleaning business, and her services are in constant demand in the neighborhood. She could work every day if she wanted to, but instead takes time to cook for her family and enrich her mind at the local library and doing other activities.

She has engaged several of us in a very interesting discussion about age.  I won’t tell you hers, except to say that the age of Social Security eligibility is in her rear view mirror.  This is what she wants to know:

“I’ve always thought of elderly as the older people who are slow of step or shuffle their feet when they walk or are no longer able to stand up straight and need help getting around, who spend a goodly amount of time “doctoring”, who need somebody to remind them when it’s time to take meds, time for meals (that they can no longer prepare for themselves), time to get up/go to bed, are no longer able to drive.  And I’ve said before that the older we get, the farther away old age gets!”

There’s been a lot of media banter about “fifty being the new forty” and studies showing that regardless of age, people do not view themselves as old. Is age just a number to you? Do birthdays mean the mere passage of time, the gaining of knowledge or the increased need for NSAIDs and naps?

The advertising world has clearly noticed the obvious: Baby Boomer numbers are big. Seventy-nine million babies were born  between 1946 and 1964, and the first wave of folks is reaching age 65 this year. All kinds of new products and services are available to meet the needs of this group. The worlds of travel, food, medicine and health care, home building, exercise, publishing, fashion, automobiles and every other consumer product and service imaginable is affected by the aging of America.

But how do we look at ourselves, Miss Riggs wants to know? Are we old, older, aging, senior? Where does it start? Miss Riggs has an 85-year-old stepmother, and does not consider the woman to be elderly.

I think it might be time to drop the adjectives completely. I’ve learned to view  the passage of time and the accumulation of birthdays as an indication that I’ve outlived a few other people and I gained knowledge each day I lived. I’m more sore the morning after competition than I was twenty years ago, and I need to stretch some body parts before I get out of bed. Waterproof tape, aspirin and the occasional elastic bandage have become my bedside companions.  But overall, I’m in good shape physically, mentally and intellectually.

So, what about you? Do the years count against you, do you count the years or do you make the years count?

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Filed under Aging, Uncategorized