August 15, 2008

Sudden Death and Aging

If you asked me to describe the most frustrating aspect of blogging it would not be the struggle to come up with content or the fight to develop of a community of readers who comment. For me those things are mild irritants.

What really bothers me is when I have trouble writing the actual post. Sometimes the words just flow from fingertip to keyboard and sometimes they come in drips and drabs. I picture it as water flowing through a pipe with various kinks and obstructions in it.

Or maybe it is because some of these topics are harder to write about. Maybe it is because they're more personal and my ability to share some of those things has been compromised. That could be it, I don't know and I am not sure if I really care. Does it matter.

In the end there is just the keyboard and my struggle to try and give life to the story because some of these tales deserve more than they get. This is one of those, or at least my attempt.

Death is something that sometimes preoccupies me. I have been to a lot of funerals for people who have died what would be described as untimely deaths. It seems to me that I know or should I say have known more people who have died young than most people my age.

At least that used to be how I looked at it. Now that my friends and I are in that late thirties to mid forties bracket things have changed. More of our parents have gotten some sort of terminal illness and or died from it.

There are more stories about the mother/father who was sixty-something who didn't wake up. More stories about how a sudden heart attack or aneurysm ended their life and the questions this leaves for their children.

In the pre-marriage, pre-children days these were still looked upon as tragedies, but they were different. Now my friends look at me with fear in their eyes and ask what will happen to their children if they die. Who will watch them. Who will make take care of them. Who will love them forever without question.

During the past year I have sat with friends of my father, widowers, and been given a window into their grief. As a kid I wanted to be able to do adult things, I wanted to have the freedom that grownups have. Now I have it and sometimes I don't want it.

I have watched and listened as men who knew me as a young boy shared their feelings of loss and devastation. Twenty years ago I thought of people who were sixty as being really old, but now I see things differently. Look, I am 39, I don't expect to become a member of AARP any time soon, but it is different. It is different because I see that there is no reason why I can't have decades of life to live.

To live, not to endure, but to live. In theory those years and beyond will be a time where I get to do things that I can't do now.

But I watch and listen and wonder. In their grief I see the tears that roll down their cheeks and do my best not to shame them by making a big deal of things. I hear them talk about never falling in love again and having to live out their lives a shell of a man and I wonder.

One of my father's friends and I had a long discussion about it and I see that life really has changed a bit. Some years ago he listened and offered advice on life and now here we are, our positions reversed.

It is a little more than a year since his wife died. He is only 64, but he feels like he'll never feel real joy and happiness again. I don't accept his premise that he can never fall in love again.

Fortunately I have never been in his position, I am not a widower so I can't comment on that. Can't say that I totally understand some of the challenges of being 64, but I do know what it is like to be heart broken. That is something that I can relate to and can provide some advice about.

Different day, different scene. One of my friends calls to let me know that his father has cancer. It is in a relatively advanced stage, but they think that there is a good chance that they can treat it. I listen as he speaks, worries about what will happen to his father, whispers about the worst and wonders if he should ask his mother to live with him.

Flash to a different day again and there is a group of us talking about our parents overall health. Who has long term care, who has good healthcare, questions/comments about how many of us are going to end up having to take care of our parents.

More talk about wills, retirement and our own health. This person says that and that person says this. For a moment it feels like I am at a tennis match. I have said it more than once, these discussions used to be a lot more fun in our twenties.

But I get it. Too many heavy things have come down and we haven't even discussed the state of our own grandparents. I think that I'll save that talk for a different time, this post has gone on long enough.

5 comments:

WomanHonorThyself said...

thanks for sharing from the heart.:)

Kate said...

All things that I have experienced as well... Except for advising widowers - I mean just the thinking about death, ailing parents, etc.

I always though that when my parents got old and died that I'd already feel like a real grownup. But a big part of me is still "the daughter" and can't imagine how to exist without a mom to consult. Since she's now going through cancer treatment - I really have to consider the fact that becoming a real grownup first may not be an option.

I miss being able to just go up to my childhood bedroom and read for a few hours, knowing that the real grownups were downstairs running the world.

Jack said...

Angel,

My pleasure.

Kate,

I hear you. Every now and then I miss that too.

Batya said...

great post
I'm of another generation. My eldest is a couple of years younger than you are.
I still have both parents, a rarity for someone my age. Most of my friends have none alive. My father's two siblings are both hospitalized at the present, but he's the one with the fewest functioning brain cells.
Refuah Shleimah to Uncle George and Aunt Boche.
Gershom ben Ginnalle
Boche bat Ginnalle

Jack said...

Hi Batya,

To have both parents is a blessing.