Saturday, January 3, 2009

aging gracefully

I want to be filled with positive thoughts about aging, but it's close to impossible to dredge many up. While my getting older is ok at the moment, notwithstanding the wrinkles in my inner elbows and the creases at the edges of my mouth that make me look perpetually angry or mean, it's horrifying to watch it around me. I am confronted by my mother and mother-in-law—polar opposites at aging but equally scary. My mother is 73 going on 90, spending much of her time doped up and in bed. Between bad hips, bad knees and crippling arthritis, she can barely move and is constant pain. Then there are the multitude of other medical ailments that, to be honest, I can't list because I'm not really sure what they are. Almost every conversation includes recaps of doctor visits and test results. I gave up a long time ago and just mutter appropriate sympathy when necessary. She recently informed me she has 2 years left and then she's done.

Then there's my mother-in-law who, during a snowstorm this week, managed to skid off the road. Twice. Same road. Same spot. The fact that there were white out conditions couldn't shake her plans. She recently moved to Vermont, to a house off a dirt road, not really close to anything, surrounded by woods. 2 stories, so she has to deal with stairs every day. Her faith in her independence is remarkable and while I applaud her bravery and intrepid-ness, what the hell? She's alone. She's 5 hours away from any relative. Should something happen, who's helping? While looking at the dark side isn't the best way to be, being reasonable is, well, reasonable. While my mom's seeing the door closing quickly, my mother-in-law is acting like she's 25. Only she's 73. Which is worse—the old crone or the perpetual teenager? They constantly, without knowing it, battle for top spot.

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