12 July 2009

Age Really Is More Than a Number

So. One of the most comforting things, to me, about being Pagan is our view of life and death. Death is a part of the cycle, and helps to sustain life. When I became accepting of that basic tenet, I became less scared of dying.

But...I admit, as much as I don't fear death, I am scared to death (pun intended) of getting old. I'm scared of losing my body functions, I'm scared of not being able to do things I've done for all my life, and I'm scared of sitting around, waiting for others to help me.

For example, I took my mom to the eye doctor today so she could have her eyes dilated. Turns out she's got cataracts (she's 55), and believe me when I say she was the youngest person in that waiting room. This particular doc only visits this neck of the woods once a month, so naturally you can imagine the place was packed with patients who were there to have the exact same thing done as my mom.

Again, my mom was the youngster of the group. So, there were a lot of walking canes, wheelchairs, and breathing equipment. Now you all know that my natural tendency here would be to tell this story light-heartedly, but I'm finding that I cannot treat this subject humorously at all. I'll ask that you humor me and my dark rambling a bit.

I spent nearly four hours today surrounded by frail, dependent elderly people and I am just depressed as hell. It is not distate for old people that I am expressing...and I certainly don't mean to sound disrespectful towards my elders. But, I got a long, hard look at my mother's future...and mine as well. That's going to be me someday, sitting in a disinfected, quiet-as-death waiting room, depending on some young scamp of a doctor to call my name and tell me how he's going to help me. I'm sure he'll be kind and Hippocrates-esque, but deep down I'll know that this is just the beginning. I'll be sitting in another waiting room soon, waiting for another doctor to give me another prognosis to something else that's wrong with my body. And then, sure enough, as I walk out of that doctor's office, I'll be depending on somebody, husband or child, to drive me home or get my medication or set up my next doctor's visit.

And then, see, my quality of life depends on doctors. They name my maladies, give me medicines, perform my surgeries...so that I can live longer and experience more of the aches and pains of growing old. It's quite ironic, actually.

And it's all a part of the cycle. It happens to everyone. I'm fine with the end result...I've reconciled myself to dying. I haven't quite come to terms with the way that I'll get there. I may never.


  1. I was a late late baby, my parents mid 40's when I arrived, my mother died many years ago at 92, father 30 years before her. I did the whole guardian thing for her and a thousand hours over many years in those depressing waiting rooms, and some times I was with the most problematic patient there, impatience, anxiety, panic bathroom runs, did it all. All I can say is, I stayed polite, and figured she had faced the same troubles with me when I was a kid, so the accounts were edging towards balancing. But I can agree it was unnerving being amongst all those frail people, and bieng sometimes with one of the most frail. Very depressing for me too.
    Pagans attend the Unitarian Church we visit once in a while. Very nice people. We visit a church service from time to time, have never found one that seemed to be any better than any of the others we ever visited.

  2. There is always more than one path to a destination.

    The problems we had as a maiden were unique to that stage of life. The problems you have as a mother are also unique. The crone's problems seem scary from here, but just like the mother's problems of today, you'll deal with them then as they come. Why try to deal with them now as well before they exist?

    Just my thoughts.