Okay, I will just admit it right here and now.
I am afraid of getting old. Not fear..as in..the way that I am terrified of spiders or horses (yes, horse lovers, I have disappointed you now, yes? I am not necessarily afraid of horses per se, but of their heads, it's an odd fear, I know...but my own...) but leery. Very leery.
I want to die peacefully in my sleep at 78, 79, maybe 80.
I just don't want to be infirm. Dependent on someone else to take me to the toilet, or worse...change my diaper. I have already arranged to set aside money every month for the express purpose of either hiring a home health aide or going into a nice nursing home if it comes to that. I do NOT want my daughter to feel that she must take me in and nurse me if I become unable to take care of myself. The thought of Liv wiping my ass makes me ill. She and I have never discussed this and hopefully, never will.
I believe that I will outlive Bing. Not because I am healthier, but because I am not. It always goes that way, you know? With couples. The one who dies first always seems to be the one who was more robust. Of the two of us, Bing is by far the healthier. She has no major illnesses, as I do. She eats very healthily, we have meat maybe twice a week at the most. She rarely craves sweets or salt, while I, the type 1 diabetic, PINE for oreos. I am so jealous that she could sit down and eat a whole package of them while I can only eat one occasionally. If I told her this, she would be puzzled. I can see her saying, "Why would anyone WANT to eat a package of oreos? God, even one makes me feel sick." She gets cravings for ice cream occasionally and it is always around the first of the month, when she used to have her period. Another way that she is healthier than me. Her periods were always like clockwork. They would come on the first or second of the month. Mine were helter skelter. I would sometimes go for 19 days between periods, other times 42 days, sometimes I would miss a month entirely. Liv has not inherited this and I am glad. It was as if my body itself was just lackadaisical.
Hmmm. Feel like having a period this month? Let's see...ok. How about Monday? No? Well, why don't we just skip it altogether?
It is absolutely amazing to me that I was able to conceive a child at all.
Bing jogs every morning before she leaves for school unless it is raining hard or we are in the midst of a blizzard. She takes Socks with her and he loves it. She goes to the gym at least 5 times a week and swims laps. I don't run unless the house is on fire and I go to the gym about 3 times a week with her, but I just walk the track. It's all my RA will allow. I have a left knee that is inclined to blow up to the size of a grapefruit about three times a year. I also have such stiffness in my hands that Bing sits on the edge of the bed every morning before she leaves for school and rubs them for me. She makes a joke of it, says, "Okay, beastie, hand me your claws."
I get migraines about once a month. I have Meniere's syndrome that occasionally rears it's vertigo head. I am blind as a bat without my glasses and I inherited the bad teeth of my parents. I have 7 caps.
Bing had some back problems a couple of years ago that slowed her down for a few months, but she diligently did her physical therapy and is now back to normal. I occasionally need to use a cane when my RA is flaring and my joints ache so badly that walking is painful.
Of the two of us, you would pick Bing to be the one to live til she was 98. But, no. She will die before me. It is just the way these things happen. As my sainted Irish Mother used to say, "God loves a good joke."
So, it will be me left on my own. I won't re-marry. Hell, it took me over three decades just to marry Bing! I am very comfortable being a pot with no lid and I suspect that if Bing died, I would never, ever re-marry. In fact, I would bet money on it.
Bing will be gone and I will be aging. It won't be pretty. I have too many infirmities. And since I have no intention of letting my daughter be my nursemaid, I will end up in a nursing home, I suppose.
This makes me so sad that I can hardly bear it. I don't want to sit in some cookie cutter little apartment in some brick building with cheery motives on the walls. I don't want to play bingo or go to listen to some folk singers carry on about "Puff the Magic Dragon" while we all sit around nodding off, some of us will have forgotten to put our teeth in.
I don't want to sit at a table with others for my meals and have to eat my diabetic meal plan serving. I don't want groups of grade school carolers to come sing Christmas songs to us while I sit in my wheelchair trying not to wonder who lives in my old home now, if there are stockings on the hearth like we used to do.
I don't want someone to bring a dog around for us to pet. It will make me think of Socks, probably buried in the back yard where someone else lives now and they don't even know that he is next to where that big garden used to be but is now a koi fish pond.
I don't want to have my daughter visit me, sometimes accompanied by my grandchildren and there I will be not recognizing her and asking her if she is the new nurse and seeing the tears start in her eyes and wondering why that pretty nurse is crying.
I seriously don't want to wear a diaper or have nurse aides talk about me as if I'm not there.
"You know she used to be a shrink! And all those books that her daughter insists need to stay in her room when she can't even understand Cat in the Hat anymore!"
And if I am even a little lucid this will bring a memory up of a little golden haired girl sitting in my lap giggling over thing 1 and thing 2.
I don't want to have to remember Bing. I want to have her with me.
I don't want to look down at my gnarled twisted hands and fingers and remember how tenderly she sat at the edge of the bed kneading my fingers until they weren't claws anymore and then leaning down and telling me to get up now, time to get ready for work, goodbye my love, I'll see you tonight. It's The Americans night on television. Can't wait!
When I go into nursing homes (and it is rare), I always look at the people there and remind myself that these people were once a big part of the world. Once, as I sat at a Christmas concert that our friend was giving, I sat next to a man who told me that he used to be a college professor. Taught math. And that his wife had passed the Summer before last and so now he had a single room. That his son lived in Colorado and came and visited every few months and brought the grandkids. And I sat there thinking of him standing in front of his class and saying, "Ok, kids. Hand in your work from last week. And Bill? Can I see you after class? I have that brochure about grad school for you." I thought of him going home to his wife and his son, maybe eating dinner and watching Charlie's Angels or something. Maybe pruning the rose bushes. Going to his son's basketball games and hoping that he didn't ride the bench this time.
When we stood up at the end of the concert and said goodbye and I watched him shuffling off with his walker, his white hair a tuft on the top of his head, I had to bite my lip not to cry. I went home and wrote out a Christmas card and sent it to him. He never answered and that's okay. I probably wouldn't have either, if the roles were reversed.
And they will be.
One day, I will be that person sitting in a nursing home and some sharp dressed woman will come sit down by me and ask if she can pour me some holiday punch. And I will tell her that I once worked with kids with autism and yes, I have a daughter. She's an environmental engineer, living in Arizona. I see her once in a while. And my granddaughter and son in law. And then that sharp dressed woman will get up and get to leave afterwards on her good strong legs and I will be wheeled back to my room where I will sit for a while and remember Bing's laugh and Liv's high jumps at the track meet and this blog. And then some aide will come in and put me to bed and maybe I will dream that I am young again and in college and meeting Steven Tyler when his band plays at a dance.
I fear aging. I know myself well. I will not go gentle into that good night. I will fight it.
I want to die when I am 80 years old, in my own bed, in Bing's arms.
Is that asking so much?