When? he asked. When does middle age end and old age begin?

"When" he asked, " when does middle age end and old age begin?"

It took awhile to recover from his question.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

It's Been A Year, Quite a Year.

Of course they all are. But THIS of all years, has told me I am on the down hill slope.  I have wondered when I reached life's peak and began the downhill side of life's journey.

That summit is not clear- was it 40 or 45 years of age? Was it when my kids left home for good? Was it when  as a couple, we agreed that proximity during the night was no substitute for a good night's rest. I can't really say and I think back to Callum who first asked me the question of when middle age ends and wonder if perhaps he, in his youthful wisdom knows.

I met my now settled, youngest son's true love last year. It was so rewarding to know he had found her and they were committed to each other. My first grandchild graduated from university and is employed in a field that inspires him. My second grandchild was born just a second over a year ago. My baby sister, truly a mature and competent woman but  perpetually a child in my eyes, recently married. The joys of life  have been mine.

We were called to visit the Coast in the spring of  2014. We spent time with my youngest son and also with my mother. It was a good visit but she was unwell. I knew she wasn't saying all and I wasn't asking. We travelled to the Island and saw my first friend;my dear cousin, and shared a meal with her parents and her younger sibling, my incredible cousin and his fine wife. This fellow, remembered mostly by me as the smart quiet redheaded kid, is now a retired man.

The most poignant moment of the trip came after a very convivial evening. We walked my Aunt and Uncle to their truck and waved them off. We were sure it would be the last time we would see the pair of them, our home being so far away. And it was. My Uncle died August 15th, the day my baby sister married the man she has been waiting for. My Auntie tells me she is doing well and I hope it is so.

My mother's journey to eternity was short. An return trip West saw me at her bedside. I shepherded her from Oncology to palliative care, to hospice in little over a week. I rested my head on my baby sister's shoulder as we cried buckets. I kissed my mother good bye and left her with my sister to finish her journey. My unfinished business, no longer of any consequence. Some things we aren't meant to know. In her independent way, my mother left me behind and died five days after assuring me I could  leave her.  My shock at her death was the realization that my grief and indeed all grief truly is about those left behind. My grief is and was, selfish. It is about what I have lost, what I no longer have, what I miss and what I long for. My Mother and my Uncle are gone. Both in their time having accomplished much and lived fully, they were accepting and and ready. It is me who  rails for what I have lost.

There are 365 days in most years. Odd really, my 365 last days have held various couplets. My mother died on my deceased Mother-in-Law's birthday. My Brother-in-law passed on the day of my Mother's funeral and our Uncle, on my Sister's wedding day. My new Grandson was born 2 days before my birthday, just as I was born 2 days before my own Grandmother's birthday.

In little over a year I have held and hugged and said good bye to the people of my childhood. I have seen a son launched in life and love, welcomed a grandchild, seen another set foot on the path of adulthood.  It has been quite a time, quite a time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Moss agate

 I cannot see my eyes. Odd really, but there it is.  If I don't have my glasses on there isn't a hope of seeing what is in the mirror. What is there before me is so indistinct as to be recognizable as an eye but NOT 'my eye or eyes.'

Like many other youngsters-I assume, I spent hours gazing into the mirror looking at my eyes. I can recall being banished from the bathroom counter for spending too long looking at my seven year old eyes. There were the infinite  images captured between the triple mirrors as I positioned myself  to "make up my eyes" in my youth. With age my fleeting reflection was caught in mirrors and puddles,lakeside and in the eyes of my sons and lover. But somewhere over time the ability to actually look into my own was lost to me.

A 10x magnifier attached to the bathroom mirror to capture the random whiskers of the post-menopausal age recently changed all this. Glasses on, positioned just so- to avoid distortion, I can once again look into my aging eyes and see.  And what I saw was moss agate. Huh! My eyes  are not grey, nor green, nor even blue. They for all the world, look like moss agate.

Friday, March 13, 2015

On this day, I say:

I always intended to head this blog with a favourite picture from a  road trip. It shows the view going down a long  gradual  incline. Because it always seemed that that's what aging would be, a gradual incline. Sometimes though, you find yourself free wheeling down the road maybe  pulled into the invisible slipstream, pulled along with ever increasing speed with no desire to hit the brakes to back off and let them race on.

Once  coming through the mountains of BC many years ago, I saw a family picnicking. A classic bucolic scene so ordinary as to be trite. Wicker hamper and plaid blanket, man and woman with small child, boot of the car open and a vista of highway and a swiftly flowing river with a backdrop of snow capped mountains they, the family appeared so ordinary and unaware. Their choice of picnic site not an abandoned roadway or wayside  as they may have imagined but, a run away lane.

Sometimes life is a picnic.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

More Ageing

It has been  a nasty winter it seems as if  everyone is moving a little more cautiously and often a little slower. I was on the bus yesterday. The driver stopped  for a passenger. There was a  brief delay as a woman struggled to get on the bus with a shopping cart. She moved slowly and stiffly to a seat near me as the driver waited for her to get settled. I looked up at her and the though struck me"there's and old woman." Then I looked into her face and was shocked to realize I had once known her when we were both young. I sat for a few minutes realizing how long it had been since we both volunteered at the same elementary school when our children had attended. I quietly called her name and she looked up at me. Yes it was her  and yes it has been that long.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Picking up speed on the downhill stretch

If I were religious I'd say  we have been blessed with good health.

We being 'my family,' both the children I have borne and the family I was born into. My husband too, has a family history of good health and longevity. On the periphery  of my family life I have known of people who suffered from ill health and disease but my fore bearers and those of my spouse have lived to impressive  ages, in remarkable good health. My children and grandchild, to date; hale and hearty, my spouse; vigorous and vital.The one cloud on this sunny horizon was the death in early adulthood  of my dear brother Todd, victim of  an aggressive brain tumor.

My friends too have been fortunate to be healthy and parents of healthy children. I have never had to support a close friend with a sick parent, nor give comfort to a friend with sick or injured child or a terminal spouse. I believe  my  life is exceptional in this regard. I cannot attribute it to good living   and see it as little more than dumb luck, adequate nutrition, clean water, immunization and preventive health care. I have given considered thought to this over the last few years and have reckoned that this will not continue as I age.

Someone I know will have a stroke, someone will suffer a heart attack, someone will develop Parkinson's and surely someone will fight cancer. As I age, the incidences of the diseases of aging will increase in my peer group and touch me personally, this is inevitable. It also stands to reason that the odds of encountering catastrophic illness in my community of acquaintances increase as the years go on.It happens to other people and I can expect the same. How can it not be so?

Yesterday I visited one of my oldest friends in the hospital, something I haven't done since all our babies were being delivered into this world. He is a grandfather of two. He seems to be doing very well. He doesn't give off the vibe of someone terribly ill. His condition, just treated, was one of those found  in adults over 50 . It was found in a routine health examination. Tissue and lymph nodes have been sent for further examination, but all indications are that this is due diligence rather than a suspicion of anything more sinister. I am optimistic his crooked smile, quirky sense of humour and kindness will be with me for years to come, but know too that his health is the first of my circle to be seriously affected and that we all will again be touched as time goes on in this down hill track to the end.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

End Of The Road

I like to travel to the end of the road, to go as far as possible just to see what there is when I get there. My travel budget is small and I don't get to leave the country but last week we took a 3 day breather  in Prince Edward County and is our pattern ended up going to the end of the road...on the way there we stopped at the Little Bluff Conservation Area. Seemingly nothing special we were annoyed by a group of seniors sightseeing  who we had the misfortune  to be trailing from place to place. We were about to  head back to the car when I noticed a blue arrow,an  indication of a trailhead. We took the downward path to the beach below.

Photos cannot describe the enormity of the rocky beach below. A perfect arc of large pebbles rounded by the relentless wave action created a steep beach angling  to the water below and leveled off to a ridge which contained the marsh behind it . Surely this geometry was the inspiration for the Hoover Dam. We watched a flock of birds (must figure out what kind!) perform and aerial ballet swooping and grouping over the surface of the water and blasting towards the sky only to turn swiftly and break off, regroup and repeat before flying out of sight but not forgotten.

The isolated and sheltered situation of the cove made me think that most probably  the location had been used by smugglers  and this website indicates that was the case. The pictures do not do the cove justice and fail to convey the scale of the beach.