In April, 2013, I wrote a blog about the experience of being 74 years old. I made the statement that, “Daily life is not without its aging reminders.” I gave some examples such as being offered a seat on a crowded bus, attending matinees rather than evening performances, being referred to in a waiting room as “that lady with white hair.” These are all the beginnings of feeling somewhat at variance with the world around me.
Now, three years later, a new phenomenon has shown itself.
In the past two months, at least four different people have asked me if we are still in our “own home.” The question makes sense, these are people I haven’t seen for a while. It’s a perfectly reasonable and interesting thing to bring up. And yet–the question is also a very heavy “aging reminder.”
Being in one’s “own home” in older age serves as a powerful symbol of well-being and independence in much of western culture. I remember my mother, then past age 90, responding to people’s concerns by saying, “I’m doing all right. I’m still in my own home.” Have Ed and I reached that point of vulnerability now?
Living into these later years definitely takes courage and fortitude, folks — definitely.
Today is the first day of March, 2016. March — the month that ushers in signs of spring, that signals the approaching end of our “winter-weary” days. Friend, colleague and poet Jim Batt shared one of his poems with me — “March Scripts Its Debut.” How beautifully the poet captures the essences of everyday phenomena in our lives.
March Scripts Its Debut
By James R. Batt
Old March bestirs itself,
shaking off winter grime of tired snows,
remnant leaves, weeds and brush,
sending the lot of it tossing,
with sharp-edged blasts
across lawns and parking lots alike.
Still pale but promising,
a winter-weary sun lounges yet,
late and low, hovering over
the southern edge of the land.
Somewhere, a kite caresses the sky.
A young boy, tethered to it by
a long line of string and hope,
marvels at the fancy of flight,
at the moving patch of brilliant color
he now sends singing about
the azure blue above.
Down the street, a woman cracks open a door,
steps outside, hugs herself from the
cold, picks up the morning paper
and returns to warm home, hot coffee.
A dog barks.
March continues writing its scenario.
© James R. Batt, 2016.
It’s a good day! I had my last physical therapy session this morning for rehab following my left knee replacement. The final measurements were most encouraging — 5 more degrees of flexion and 3 more degrees of extension. This brought me a huge lift of spirits! For those of you who have never had to pay much attention to the range of motion in your knees, these numbers may not sound like much, but to me they are huge. I had been at a plateau for several weeks and now I finally, finally showed some positive change.
I’m starting to take walks around the neighborhood again. My appetite and energy level are coming back. I’m more often getting a good night’s sleep. Now, as I go about my everyday life, I’m finding that I’m not always conscious of my left knee as my new knee. It’s becoming more and more just my left knee in the same way that my other knee is just my right knee. I am definitely starting to feel more and more like my “normal” self.
For the past three months, my world has been one of physical disability. I think, really, for the first time I have realized the meaning of the accommodations provided in our communities for people with disabilities.
The “disabled parking” badge that I was issued is good until October of this year. For the past three months, I have gratefully looked for the familiar universal disability symbol in many, many parking lots — at grocery stores, at restaurants, at granddaughters’ school events, at concerts, at church. Somehow, on finding and then pulling into a disabled parking spot, I get a feeling that someone cares about people like me and that accommodations have been made to ensure that we can still go about our daily routines and activities. And, on a more personal level, I know that there is still a place for me, here in this everyday world.