Monthly Archives: May 2008

>What was your favorite age?

>My husband, my lovely, sweet, generous husband’s mother is sinking into the miasma of Alzheimer’s and it is unraveling him.

I watched my father dance around the edges of dementia as he limped into his nineties, but he did continue to take in new information and even upbraid me with his Irish rancor when I repeated myself after he had processed and owned the new facts. But Nana is losing all sense of who she was, who her kids are, if she even has kids. She questions why she is living in this house, the home she lived in with her husband and seven kids for nearly 50 years.

Nana has settled herself in her late teens and early twenties. When she looks at old photographs of herself and her not yet husband, and all their friends at parties, visiting Atlantic City from Washington D.C. and she can tell you all their names, where she bought the fabulous hat and what they ate for dinner at the crab shack. But she often doesn’t know my husband, can’t recall that he is married and has two kids; and that makes him sad.

I watched my mother, near the end of her life, not really altered by Alzheimer’s, but shot up on morphine, and anti-depressants to get her through her life after a stroke. She was very interested in going to the place where her parents and her cousin lived. Both my mother and her cousin Robert were only children and they were raised more as siblings than just cousins. My mom adored Robert, a few years older than she, and there are photos of her trialing after him with a look of adoration spread across her grimy little face. Robert was a Navel pilot, shot down over Tokyo Bay and never found. My mother kept a picture of him, all gap toothed grin, smiling out. As she got near the end of her life she was in her late twenties and waiting to go to a party where Robert and her long-dead parents would be in attendance. Kind of a wonderful notion. For my mother.

But tough for those who don’t seem to make it into your conscientiousness. It sometimes made me feel as if I was diminished in her eyes. Why didn’t she want to return to the time when I was little or, graduating from school, or giving her grandkids?

It made me wonder, into what time would I retreat? Young mother with baby children, carefree romps in fields as a child myself, producing plays, gardening. I can’t predict what time will most captivate me. And as I think about that notion, I try to continue to make incredible memories, so when the time comes to revisit whatever moments my inner projector chooses; I will have a giant bank from which to choose.

I am content that Nana has a place to retreat when times are tough; but I am sorry my husband feels so sad when he sees her and has to confront the realization that he and his brothers and sisters are often not a part of the place where Nana has gone.

Life and old age are not for the faint of heart.

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>The Eyes Have It or Weepy VS Old

>No, it is not some new weird, reality show where people wrestle… it is just the reality of my life as a mid-life mom, woman, worker, wending my way through life.

I ride my bike everywhere, you know that right? Well, I do and today it is beautiful, gorgeous enough for me to feel as if perhaps the universe is paying me back for all the lousy, rainy, cold days I slogged to and from work and meetings on my trusty three-speed. Today puts money in the weather bank and redeems the North East for the crazed days past.

So yes, of course, I am riding my bike back and forth to meetings today in the sunshine and wind. And I stopped to get my sunglasses adjusted, because it looks as if the season is upon us. As I walk in the shop my eyes are streaming tears. I had been told that light eyes, mine are like an Alaskan Husky, clear blue off-set by my no-longer “real” dark brown hair. (OK, to dye or not to dye is most definitely another post) But this is about eyes. The eye doc comes over and I proffer my good old Persol glasses apologizing for my weepiness and add, “ have always been told that light eyes are more sensitive to light and wind, and I am on a bike.”

“Oh no, that’s not the reason; it’s just because they are old eyes.” I swear he said that. Who would make that up? OLD EYES.

Well, I mumbled and made some snappy rejoinder. . . maybe, but I was stunned. My eyes were a thing I though might hold out and still be glorious until I hopped off the twig–a phrase my 86-year-old friend Beati uses when referring to her last mortal moment. I thought my skin would get the way it does–spotty and wrinkly–and there would be more floppy skin surrounding the eyes, but the blue of a great Carolina sky would hold me strong. They wouldn’t be clouded in a flood of weepy.

Now when I enter a store or go to a meeting I will be embarrassed about my watery eyes. I know they have always been runnier than most and I am challenging myself today to think: Are they different from 20 years ago water-wise?

I can’t recall. I seem often to occupy the moment firmly, both a good and bad thing. Here is what I want to know. Was there a reason for this eye doc to call my orbs old? And couldn’t we all do with a little more finesse when it comes to talking about other people . . . I mean especially right in front of them. I’m off to buy a pack of tissues to stuff in my bag to hide the tears.