14 Comments

SWIMMING IN YOUR HEAD


Amy Tan, writer of such memorable works as “The Joy Luck Club” as well as so many other insightful books, once advised us to write what’s swimming in our head. The mind is never a complete blank, though the ability to transcribe the void can be difficult.

My mind is usually so crowded, it’s hard to separate the ridiculous from the sublime, which is why I occasionally walk into another room and wonder why I went there. I would feel bad about it, but my daughter says she does it too. There is too much information out there to remember it all. A friend excused the sensation by imagining a little man bustling about trying to organize a roomful of feral cats. Obviously it can’t be done, so why worry?

We entertained yesterday with a late lunch, and Charlie behaved himself grandly with friends who had known him from a tiny puppy. Only once did I hear someone say “Charlie, stop eating your bed”. Charlie, like many humans, seems to get energized when company arrives, and while some people are propelled into talking mode, Charlie, in an obvious effort to extend a welcome, drags out all the toys in the toybox to see if he can encourage someone to pay attention to him. It’s sad really.

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. The people who make them in hopes of improving themselves, usually don’t need much improvement. The monthly lunch with my high school girl friends, has gained a couple more ladies, who decided to join us when they heard about it. We used to meet every 6 weeks or so, but as we get closer to decrepitude, it seems wise to meet more often. One friend has moved into a retirement home, and another cannot drive the distance required. A third who until a year ago, drove to Reno often to see family, no longer drives the freeway. In our case, the resolution to come together more often is imperative.

We make the decision to stop driving at different ages and for different reasons. One friend and neighbor will be 95 in a few weeks and is still driving, though no longer on the freeway. The traffic has become horrendous at any time of day, and accidents and road rage intimidate the most intrepid drivers. I gave up driving this past year when I realized my AMD had progressed to the point of danger. Now, several months later, I have limited vision, finding certain things simply disappear. I can’t believe it, but it’s another interesting part of growing older, and more people than we know suffer from the condition. It’s somewhat like the roomful of feral cats, so why worry?

I am reminded of a cousin, who is 99 this year, had a relationship with a gentleman friend a few years ago. When they were both widowed, they decided to marry, and planned a wedding aboard the USS Hornet, a wartime aircraft carrier moored in Alameda, which had some meaning for them. The gentleman’s adult children however, disapproved of the marriage, casting a pall on the affair which ended shortly thereafter, due to the prospective bride and groom living in different cities, and unable to drive any longer. The ability to drive in their case was crucial. It was obviously before Uber.

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14 comments on “SWIMMING IN YOUR HEAD

  1. Yes, ageing is unstoppable, Kayti. The wedding on the air craft carrier would have been something. I think it a fitting venue. A pity it did not eventuate. The driving license is going to be a yearly challenge with my vitrectomy operation not as successful as my vasectomy many years earlier.. I have one good eye left and with the latest eye test I had a kind nurse allowing me to take a peak through my fingers in front of my good eye.
    Give Charley a pat from Milo.
    We came home about an hour ago from our daily walk. Sundays are hell because many motor bikes are taken out by middle-aged bearded men to roar around rural towns with. Milo becomes totally enraged and we haven’t been able to cure it. It is so embarrassing.

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    • I will keep good thought for you in the way of your vitrectomy Gerard. Eyesight has become less than an “interesting” experience for me. With AMD things are not where you are looking, and it takes awhile to focus on where they actually are. Shopping has become a two-person chore, as I try to get as close as I can to the product. I used to think one could enter mature age simply with a good attitude, but it takes a lot of fortitude as well.
      Charlie doesn’t mind the motorcycles, but he does take offense at neighborhood dogs coming onto his property. And that too is embarrassing!

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  2. “Herding feral cats” made me laugh out loud. I have a friend in the hill country who tries to do just that. At least, she has a herd of feral cats, and seeing them at feeding time can be quite an experience. See here? It helps that she lives so far out in the country they’re not a bother to anyone. About every six months, the herd gets thinned considerably, and occasional adoptions do take place, so it’s not always like the photo. But, the cats clearly have a way of sending out invitations to the banquet.

    As for that forgetting business, I’ve been known to very occasionally ask the guard at the marina where I work, “What day is this?” When I enter into stretches of work that mean every day is nearly identical to every other, it can happen.

    I had dinner last night with a friend who attends a yearly reunion of her first grade (!) class. Age and circumstance are beginning to affect that group, too. One thing she commented about was how differently they all are aging: some with grace, and some — well, not so much. I can well imagine a certain gracelessness in my own attitude when the day to stop driving comes — particularly since I have no family. Simply working out the logistics of that is going to be difficult, not to mention coping with the immobility itself. For the time being, I’m perfectly capable of taking a Scarlett O’Hara approach to the whole thing. I’ll think about that tomorrow!

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    • When I saw the “gathering at the trough” I thought “OMG”! Imagine planning the daily menu for that group.
      I didn’t mind giving up my license because Sam still drives. When that doesn’t happen, we have no family living here, and we will have to find ways to shop. Many people can use Uber, but having a Smart phone is necessary, which we don’t have or want. There are taxis of course, but they don’t take the place of simply hopping in the car and going to multiple places. We just returned from a shopping trip to several stores, plus a couple of other “looking” stops. That will end. We drove with our 95 year old friend to play bridge the other day, so you have a long time to go.

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  3. Loved the idea of herding feral cats….sums up my mind so well!

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  4. I have a friend whose parents both suffered from dementia. Every morning, her father picked up the phone and dialed the operator to ask what day it was. Surprisingly, the operator always obliged. I’m 70 now and on the waiting list for hip replacement surgery. I used to enjoy long walks and now I’m afraid I’ll get into too much pain to return home! Hopefully, the surgery will remedy the situation. I like your “Scarlett O’Hara” approach very much. I’ll think about that tomorrow!

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  5. After my dad died, and Joanie recovered from her meningitis, some years passed. Those were the years when she was still on email. She began an email relationship with a man who she remembered as an admiring high school classmate from the Highland Park High School Class of 47.

    They corresponded often. Finally she told me about it. I asked if he was married. She said, “Oh yes but his wife doesn’t care that he is on email.”

    Then, she decided, despite her handicaps, to attend her class reunion about 10 years ago. She was going to Dallas to stay with her cousins, attend the reunion, and meet her email friend.

    Evidently, he hadn’t told his wife (duh) that he was emailing with the Yellow Rose of Texas Class of 47.

    He never showed up. Joanie was very disappointed.

    Distance (and a wife, good god) and not driving, was the reason for their break-up.

    Did you know this story?

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  6. Yes, walking into another room and forgetting why you went there for the next part of your sentence that seemed so on the tip of your tongue happens to the best of us I’m sure. That was kind of a sad story that those kids couldn’t be happy for their aged parents and their last moments of fleeting joy.

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  7. It is good to have lots going on your head, I find that eventually they sort themselves into some kind of order, often surprising!

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