Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Where Are We Going

Uh-oh. Damselfly is musing again. What is it with me these days? Maybe it was the large dose of family I just got. Maybe just the certain age that I’m at. All this is heading towards a discussion about aging.

My next sister down on the list — I’d call her Blondie but she’d kill me, so we’ll refer to her as Dee — was also, like me, given up for adoption into another family as an infant. The agency that our birth mother used to find us tracked her down a week or so before they found me nearly 18 years ago. Even though we grew up in different cities and situations, we still have a lot in common. She is now having similar problems to what I had a few years ago, namely an aging adoptive parent and siblings that can’t or won’t deal with the situation in a responsible way. The siblings live near their dad and she doesn’t but nevertheless she has ended up having to move him out of his home and into a new assisted living facility near her. This is a big step for everyone and not an easy one either. In my case, after my adopted mom passed away I have no relationship at all now with either of my adopted sisters and no mementos of my childhood that I didn’t already have in my possession. I wish her a better outcome than I had.

But what is it that splits families apart in situations like this? Is there a total denial on some peoples’ part that aging and dying are going to happen no matter what? You might as well make the best of it, because your life is terminal. You can’t get out of this alive! Decisions need to be made and plans carried out and everyone in the family needs to support this or it makes it so much harder than it needs to be. I’ve seen so many wrong choices made because people were not being realistic about the future, both in the short and the long term, for themselves or for their relatives. Or they just pretend it’s not happening and make no decisions at all until circumstances thrust themselves in their face. And that’s never a good time to make the right choices. These days too a lot depends on the medical system and on your own finances. Often you have to get on a wait list and it could be years before your name comes up. Makes even more sense to plan ahead. And don’t forget Plans B & C if Plan A isn’t feasible. You need some flexibility as well.

Then there’s the offspring. I think some people are just plain forgetting to grow up. A bunch of Peter Pans wanting to stay children forever. With all the perks of adults of course but none of the responsibilities. They retain the selfishness of a small child with the grown-up ability to serve their own wants. In the process they never learn that to be Adult means to take into account the needs of those around them, especially those who can’t do things for themselves such as little children and the elderly. It isn’t always about you, ya know! If you want your rights as a human being you’ve gotta pay your dues too.

Interestingly, I’ve discovered that you can still retain a lot of your playfulness and humour and enthusiasm and still act like an adult when necessary. Growing up doesn’t mean having to act all sober-sided and dull. It just means doing what you need to do when you need to do it. The rest of the time is yours to fill with whatever makes you happy. I actually had a few wonderful last years with my adopted mom. She couldn’t remember my name anymore but she knew she was loved. I remember telling her that she looked after me when I was a baby, so now it was my turn to look after her. She thought it was really funny, picturing herself as a 93-year-old baby — which she pretty much was at that point. Humour will get you through to the end, I think. Or nearly there anyway. Love will get you the rest of the way.

Alright already. Enough serious stuff. What else is up? I’m midway on the last book of “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Can hardly put it down! What an amazing writer Philip Pullman is. Expressive language, wonderful complete characters, fascinating environments and riveting action all rolled up with moral and philosophical questions that give you lots to think about. T-Man is still on the first book so I have to behave myself and not let loose any spoilers for him. It’s really hard.

I’ve finished one leg of the Sea ‘n’ Sky Socks and am working on the other. I was a little disappointed in the pattern at first but it’s looking much nicer now that there’s a lot more of it. It’s easy to memorise and not hard to work so it’s coming along faster than I expected. I’m always a lot slower on the fancy socks than I am on the plain ones! I haven’t touched the Hepburn Cardi recently but I was too busy and it got back-burnered again, poor thing. Maybe tonight while I’m watching TV.

What else? Oh yeah, I finally planted my tomato seeds and some more marigolds since not many came up. Old commercial seeds and some saved seeds that may not have been as ripe as they should be when I collected them. But I have lots of them so I’ll just keep planting until enough come up. I need to do some serious transplanting into larger pots but I may be babysitting the grandkids later today so I’m holding off until tomorrow. Not too much can go in the garden yet anyway. It’s been very cool outside and today is cloudy with rain expected this evening. I wonder if we’ll get a chance to go play at the park or not?

Later: We did!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on aging and elders. It' a subject that is in our lives as well. No easy answers! While I don't have the adoption issues, I still have family members who are difficult to deal with (who doesn't?)

Getting old, infirm and dying some day is scary stuff and for many, it's something they want to avoid dealing with for as long as possible. For a few, it's right to the last minute.

Life is such a gift....enjoy, but plan for the 'future' :)