Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pondering...



Last Sunday I took some flowers from our church to an 87-year-old lady in a hospital ward for women with dementia. She wept. “I don’t know why I’m here,” she said. “I’m fed up. I want to go home. I’ve got my own house. I don’t know why I can’t go home.”

Yesterday I visited a 92-year-old lady in a care home. She’s in full possession of her mind, but has various physical ailments which make it impossible for her live any longer on her own. “I’m bored,” she said. “I can’t play the piano any more, my eyesight’s going so that I can’t really read and I don’t want to spend all day watching television.”

I could quite understand their point of view. I wouldn’t like my life to be like theirs.

When I got home, Mr Life was transferring some family videos on to DVD. We watched one for a bit. There was 5-year-old Daughter 1, the future archivist, deep in a book; and 3-year-old Daughter 2, the future architect, drawing – both of them frequently talking non-stop in that way children do. (“This is my seal. I call him Flipper. Do you like him? He likes to swim in the sea. Now I’m going to take him downstairs and….”.) There was their little brother, the future doctor, a wobbly-headed baby giving that sudden, huge beaming smile that all babies produce with the thrilled gasping “Aahh!” laugh. And look: Mr Life, young and raven haired. And me, at 34, slim with glossy dark hair, my every waking moment consumed by these lovely, never-stopping children.

Yesterday evening we went to see Scottish Ballet performing “Sleeping Beauty” – lots of impossibly lithe young people leaping around in the prime of their strength, raising legs effortlessly skywards and bending in unlikely directions. Surely they’ll never get old and creaky?

It’s all made me a bit thoughtful. My thoughts are totally unoriginal. Time flies. Where does it go? Life is short. What’s the meaning of it all?

13 comments:

Molly said...

Seeing 89 yr.old MIL get weaker by the day, I have similar thoughts.....

meggie said...

A very elderly neighbour said to me, "I wish I would die. All my friends are gone, my children both died young, & my husband died 30 years ago. I have lived too long"
She died aged 97, & I felt glad for her.

RachelJane said...

Oh Isabelle, I think about this all the time. It's scary, isn't it?

Frankofile said...

The meaning of life of course is 42. And the only consolations are the clich├ęs - count the blessings, live in the moment - unless your wonderful commenters come up with something!

Stomper Girl said...

Extreme old age doesn't look like much fun from here, (the knees starting to get creaky, it's like the beginning of the end). But there are still many good bits to get through before we arrive signed Pollyanna

Gina E. said...

You are kind, Isabelle, to be taking flowers to these ladies. Not many people visit nursing homes, even when their own family members reside there. I refuse to worry about what will happen to me in my old(er) age, with no kids to 'look after me'... We're bringing Ken's 96 year old Mum home from hospital soon, to live with us. We can't bear the thought of her living out her last few months in a home.

Thimbleanna said...

You're such a sweetie Isabelle! I laughed at your description of you and Mr. Life in your youth. Isn't it funny to look back at old pictures. And not funny too -- ahh, to go back....

I think about these sorts of things all the time (as always, you have your finger on the pulse.) I hold my breath everyday that my parents need for care will hold out long enough for me to be no longer working.

And then, of course, the additional question to add to yours: Why do we do all these things we do? The working, the making, the doing....

Anne said...

I love the way you write. So true - life is too short, I can hardly believe our "children" are now in their 30's. My man is approaching 60 this year. Time seems to moving by a lot quicker these days. Really we do have to enjoy every moment we can.

Loth said...

The meaning of it all? That's a big one. Having children, bringing them up to be happy and hopefully watching them bring up their children to be happy too. I'd settle for that.

Tracey Petersen said...

Those three little ones in the video are the meaning. The adults they became with your patient guidance, the love they'll give to the next generation due to your careful role-modelling, the care they'll show to you as you move into your own twilight.

You've done well.

herhimnbryn said...

Working with older people (and as I approach my big five-oh), I wonder too. Guess we just have to live each day as best we can.

Lucy said...

It's odd, but no matter how unoriginal the thought, the realisation of life passing, that youth is gone and ain't coming back, and we're all going the same way, never ceases to shock and surprise us does it? And that pang when someone or something reminds us is extraordinarily painful.

I never set much store by youthful beauty, not feeling I had much anyway, and was impatient with people who tried to hang on to theirs and fussed about getting old. But now middle age creeps inexorably onward, I rather wish I'd appreciated youth more!

(The 'having children is the meaning of life' line, which my parents continually came up with, doesn't really help those of us who don't have them for whatever reasons. Sorry to be stroppy, but I'm afraid that one bugs me rather.)

Kerri said...

I'm sure you look just as lovely as you did at 34. Just ask Mr. Life. So what if we have a few wrinkles. They're just laugh lines. Not sure what they are in the hands and fingers though...
Your cat are so very photogenic :) Beautiful creatures.
Those old videos must be lots of fun. We only have photos..which are fun too.