I was waiting in the car while Jim ran into the hardware store, getting a little perturbed that he had stopped at a table of discounted merchandise outside the front door. I was in pain and wanted to go home. Then he turned around and started walking back to the car, towards my side, he had a question for me. I watched him walk across the parking lot and I thought about how he walked the walk of older men whose muscles aren’t as strong and joints not a flexible as when they were in a younger man’s body. And I thought, Oh how I love that man that he is today; I love his aging body, his maturity, his gentleness, our shared laughter and our shared fear. He asked if I wanted one of those retractable rulers that was marked down to $2, for my quilting. I said no but to buy it because I knew what we could use it for. He smiled really big as he was gazing in my eyes, turned and walked back to the store to also buy some birdseed. It continues to amaze me, as we are navigating old age, that the changes taking place in our bodies, the wrinkles, the sags, the age spots, the brain lapses, and decreased energy just don’t matter. Is my eyesight getting really bad or do I see these things but they don’t trigger the emotions of “being old” because what I see with my heart and soul is a beautiful man who has been my best friend for over 60 years.
We are now in Florida but it was a really rocky road getting here. During the past year both of us have hit some health pot-holes that threaten to change our lifestyle significantly and trigger unwanted thoughts that our days together are numbered. We had days when we were angry that our bodies were old and failing us. We had days when we were frustrated that all we seem to do is go to health care appointments and as problems are being checked out with imaging and blood tests, other problems are identified. And the best we could do to keep us going was to tell each other that it was better than the alternative. A lot of gallows humor crept into our conversations. But we made it to Florida after a week’s delay for me to visit a new doctor and to get pain under control because I fell down backwards, my already compromised lower spine hitting cement. We have both found some good solutions, if not cures, for the most pressing problems. But I am once again wrestling with the meaning of life and death.
I went through the frustration of another changing of our clocks, back from “daylight saving time” last weekend. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t very big, just another minor frustration similar to a clothing tag that irritates my neck or side. But I do get a little feisty on those two dates each year when it happens. I mean, what does “daylight saving” even mean. If they really want to save daylight they should gather some of the sunlight of the long days of summer into a “light box” and release it over the dark days of winter for those who live closer to the North Pole than to the Equator. Maybe I should just give up this phantom battle and view it as just another slight shift in light similar to taking a short trip across time zones or migrating back and forth from Michigan to Florida.
This morning I was reading some articles in the New York Times about chronic pain and thinking about some new insights I gained about being in charge of my own treatment, especially in finding exercise that helps and doesn’t hurt my unique chronic pain. Jim was leaving for a bike ride and I initiated the following conversation:
I’m reading some articles on chronic pain and am thinking that I feel best after spending some time walking around with my camera. If the car is gone when you get back, I have either gone to the beach or Fliechman’s Park.
What’s that got to do with climate change?
I look at him as my brain contorts a little in my skull and start chuckling. I said “chronic pain.”
He joins with a belly laugh as he says he heard “climate change.”
We both love the fact that we can laugh about our strange interactions/actions that seem to have multiplied as we have worked our way through our 70’s.
No matter our age, may we all find that magic balance, that sweet spot that encompasses both taking control of our lives to make them better and giving up some control to let others help us through the rocky spots. Stay safe and love much.