I’m beginning to wonder if I’m experiencing mild depression brought on by my recent fall and hospitalization. It was the first time I actually thought that I could die. In the back of my mind I’ve been living in the happy illusion that I wouldn’t/couldn’t die a minute before I am damn good and ready and I have/had things that needed doing first before I'm a candidate for that club. Yeah, I know I need to dust the glitter off my shoes, rip the rainbow ribbons out of my hair and leave my white unicorn in the barn because The Fall shattered that illusion and left me feeling disjointed. When it comes to thinking about my own demise I've spent my entire life living Scarlett O'Hara's infamous motto: "I'll think about tomorrow. I can stand it then. After all tomorrow is another day."
But what if tomorrow never comes.... hey, that would make a great title for this post…except for the fact that I just googled the phrase and it came up with 270,000 links. Granted I’ll bet most of them are to Garth Brooks' schmaltzy love song with lyrics like, "If tomorrow never comes will she know how much I loved her?" But some of those links led to an old proverb about procrastination and google defines the phrase this way: “A goal or action which is postponed until a future day is often never accomplished...”
I grew up in a family that didn’t say the “L” word often. I don’t even remember a specific occasion when one of my my parents said it to me or to each other. Writing it in a greeting card came easier and we all did it. Yesterday on a visit I told my brother he needs to say it to his kids, that they need to hear it. I’m not sure if that’s true or if he’ll remember to do it but at the time he agreed that growing up we didn’t hear it as often as kids should. I’ve said it to my nieces and nephew in recent weeks, too. So I can check that off my list of Things I Shouldn’t Postpone. My husband and I didn’t say it often either but I’m quite sentimental over the fact that the very last thing I said to Don was “I love you” and his very last words on earth were, “Love you.”
Looking for memes or quotes to go with this post brought me one that made me laugh---the Woody Allen one at the top. Another one agitated me. It shows a young woman from the back in high heel shoes walking down the center of a snow covered, country road---no other signs of life around---and in bold black letters it said, “The life in front of you is far more important that the life behind you.” My first thought was, How many people over 80 feel that way? and my second thought was, That woman is going to die of hypothermia! I live in Michigan. Women don’t walk around in high heels in snow regardless of how often the Hallmark Christmas movies make it look normal.
Do you think God puts things in your path when you need them---something I often hear where I’m living. Or do you believe those things are always there but when you need them they register on you conscience mind? I believe the latter and that happened to me when I connected with a few lines in a book club choice. I shared it in a recent post but I’ll repeat it here. Fannie Flagg wrote the following: “Thanks to Dr. Sharpio she had learned that being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have achieved, but by what you have overcome.” When I read the book a couple of years ago that passage went right by me, but not this time. I’ve read and reread it a dozen times trying to decide which side I fall on. Have I achieved anything worthy of the 'success label' or did I overcome stuff that makes me a successful person?
Quite by serendipity I had conversation a few days ago with another woman here and I shared that quote with her after she said she didn’t write a bio for the Women’s Day Tea. She said she’s not as accomplished as most of the women living here, not in the same class. (Sounds like an echo of what I wrote in a post recently, doesn’t it.) “Too blue collar to fit in is how I often feel!” I exclaimed. “Exactly,” she replied, “I’ve never had money to travel all over the world. I didn’t go to college or have time to join clubs and foundations. I had an unhappy first marriage and had to work to feed and raise my kids by myself.” I never would have guessed we both have what I’m nicknaming the Blue Collar Syndrome. I didn’t have kids to feed or an unhappy marriage but I sure could identify with her feeling inferior because she didn’t go to college. I felt that way for 25 years before I went back to finish up the degree I started after high school. Walking across that stage to get my diploma rates in the top three happiest days of my life.
At the risk of throwing negative thoughts out into the universe. I’d like to know exactly what others in their "twilight years" think is more important in their futures than stuff that's happened in our pasts. I can’t believe my health will improve or I’ll start traveling or that friends and family won’t start dropping like confetti thrown in the air. The fun activities here I do somethings feels like I’m just marking time until I die.
Like I said at the beginning, I think I’m experiencing a mild depression which is not something I've experienced much in my life. I’d better figure it out soon because I have the Medicare, annual wellness test in mid April and we all know there are questions on it about our mental health. Will I tell the truth about my ambiguous feelings or will I lie? Without missing a beat I'll answer my own question using my best Mary Sunshine voice and say, I'll think about it tomorrow. I can stand it then. After all tomorrow is another day. ©
Well Jean, you asked what those of us in our twilight years think is important. One thing that keeps coming to me is that life as an older woman is much different than I expected. The lows are very low and the highs are high. I've noticed that many of our older friends seem to be in the same boat. For example, the 25-year cancer battle often gets to me, but watching my little grand daughters grow sends me to the moon with joy. I know that each of us has our own belief system, and to be honest, I've chosen to give it all over to God. Yes, I almost feel guilty, because it seems like a cop-out. You know, since I can't cope or figure it out, I ask God to bail my sorry butt out. But the funny thing is that I'm happier when I do that. I'm not espousing any type of church, but I am really invested in a personal faith walk with God.ReplyDelete
On a more personal note to you, Jean, I truly believe that when we go through physical pain (and you certainly have!) and when we've been on various medications, it takes a big toll on us. Time seems to help straighten things out for many. Therefore, your Scarlett O'Hara approach is a good one--think about the hard stuff tomorrow. Wishing you (and all of us) better days ahead ( I can't help it--I'm an optimist!).
I've always been more on an optimist side than I'm currently in, especially when looking at the future, But then lately the future looks so short and that is freaking me out.Delete
I am surrounded by people who turn their life and worried over to God and I see how much that helps them so I'm glad it works for you and them. It almost like a meditation to think a higher power is looking out for you, I'm guessing. In the meantime your subconscious mind is working of solutions or acceptable. In a way Scarett is doing the same for me...giving a self clue to quit obsessing. As a life-long planner who always has/d a plan B and C if A doesn't work out I do sometimes get lost in the future and forget to live my best life today. Thanks for relying.
Not sure that turning your life over to "God" can work for everyoneDelete
It sure as heck wouldn't work to me like it does with others here because I don't believe in God in the traditional sense.Delete
Live your best life today. We never know how much time we have ahead of us. When my dad's aunt turned 80, her family hosted a big BD bash. Auntie Claudia invited extra people. "It's my party. I'll invite who I want," she said. The annual BD party continued after that, instigated by Auntie Claudia. "You never know; it could be the last one," she said. She celebrated the 20th anniversary of the last one before her death. There is so much to celebrate in all lives, blue collar or otherwise. Your accomplishments cannot be measured against any others. The only one to compare yourself to is you.ReplyDelete
I don't think about my life that way at all, Jean. Life is a continuum, and I don't dwell in the past or the future and think much about either one. I live in the present and do the most I can (or want to) with it.ReplyDelete
I'm proud of my past, and I know I did the best I could. It was lived and over with now. I know I'm doing the best I can at present, and I know that most of the worries I had way back then never, ever came to be. I've finally learned to trust myself and know that I (and my husband) make good decisions when they have to be made. We've always done fine.
There's a great deal to be said for Learning To Let Go, however that looks. I'm an atheist, so I don't turn my life over to anyone or anything. But I do stop sweating the small stuff. And so much of the day-to-day really IS small stuff.
Living in the moment has always been hard for me. My mom side me up to be a long range planner and for twenty years of my work life I had to do long range planning as a bridal consultant in the flower industry. I've read the books and practiced living in the moment but it never lasts a long time before I'm in planning mode again.Delete
I loved the book Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. I reread it once in a while.
I was just commenting on another blog about a similar topic.ReplyDelete
I wrote "I think of that often – that my time is getting shorter and shorter. If only I knew how short or how long I have. I could budget better…"
I've mentioned this in my comments before and I don't mind that the end may be coming (sooner or later). I've had a good life, with ups and downs like everyone else, and I don't need to live on and on. I've made people smile, I've been kind and taken care of others. I've been a good person (usually!) so when it's "my time", I think I'll be okay with that. Of course, that might be easier said than done...
I live your inventory of accomplishments. These are all important things we all should strive for. I belong to the 'good person' club too and I need to place more value on that. Thanks for the reminder.Delete
I know you said you had stopped making art. Maybe try and make some every day. Doesn't have to be a lot. I try to get to my art table for at least a little bit every day. Even if you don't make anything worth hanging on the wall.....I find it really helps me to continue my art practice especially now that I am elderly. Yoko Ono once said "Paint until you die." That is my motto to and I am sticking to it!ReplyDelete
I know that would make me happier if I could get myself back in the art grove. There's going to be an oil painting class here in the spring and they will help me do that. And I have a new sketch book to take on summer walks.Delete
I love "paint until you die". I paint landscapes. It’s my therapy. I no longer have anywhere to hang them, but I keep painting. I do some for friends, as well. I think it would be good for you, Jean. MaryDelete
I wish they had more arts and crafts classes here instead of so many card games and exercise classes. I'd love to be able to kill two birds with one stone...satisfy my love of working with my hands and socializing.Delete
I've been giving a lot of thought lately to a version of immortality. It seems to me a person's life's work is really only immortal if they do something famous or infamous enough to be remembered. I think of all the movie stars who are no longer household names and whose work has essentially been forgotten even though it may still be available in a warehouse somewhere. At the same time, I think of people like our founding fathers whose work for many years was so revered and now is starting to be viewed in a different light due to their many transgressions (slavery for one) so their 'immortality ' is being tarnished. Our survivors supposedly hold the memory of us in their hearts, but when they finally go, unless we have achieved history book status, we go too. I hope no one is actually striving for immortality;ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, a lot of the mass shooters are looking for immortality through their heinous crimes but otherwise I personally don't know of anyone who set out to be immortality though their good works or athletic skills or inventions that changes the world. People who do achieve a form of immortality like Mother Theresa or Michael Jordon or the Wright Brothers achieved as a side benefit of doing what they loved doing. But you are right, immortality only lasts as long as history remembers you.Delete
If what you say is true I am one of the most successful people of my generation. Not for what I am leaving behind but for what I have survived.ReplyDelete
I find that when I wake in the middle of the night thoughts about the past turn up and rob me of sleep, yet I never think of the present and the future. They are what I take for granted.
I don't dwell on the past a person does have to visit it from time to time to evaluate yourself worth...see how much we've evolved as caring human beings...or not if we've become bitter over the years. Not true for me but I've known elderly people who do become bitter over lost opportunities to make the most of their lives when they could have.Delete
I guess we shouldn't ever under estimate the power of survival and the example we leave behind for those who see those things we've overcome and are inspired by the fact that we made it to the other side.
yes indeed. I have however doubts that the next generation will appreciate what we have overcome. Isn't every generation too busy living its own life? I have an inkling that we, all of us, never really fully understand the travails of others. Otherwise, wouldn't we try and learn to do better?Delete
You're making good points. We never really understand our parents until we are in charge of paying our own bills and fixing things that are broken, etc.Delete
I really like that quote about success being what you have overcome. That levels the playing field especially with respect to privilege. Since I retired, I occasionally think about the same thing: am I just putting in time until my death? But then I remind myself I have been doing that since the day I was born, and try to go on with my day.ReplyDelete
"I occasionally think about the same thing: am I just putting in time until my death? But then I remind myself I have been doing that since the day I was born, and try to go on with my day." Wow, that's a powerful thought to stop the train when it gets rolling down the track---for me the track of worrying that I'm leaving too many loose ends behind. Thanks for sharing that.Delete
All the news about teenagers suffering from depression because of the pandemic has to be a commentary about the population at large also. Any of us with an ounce of compassion and empathy has to have suffered a repeating sense of sorrow from all the death and misery suffered by our fellow humans. And watching the senseless shootings going on in our country with gun laws being loosened in many states makes some of us think life is out of control. A sense of control is a main determinant of happiness and contentment, so you've simply joined the club of aware humans who feel for others. And don't lie at your wellness exam. I guarantee you're not alone feeling the way you do.ReplyDelete
I really do feel awful that kids today are not able the have the innocent childhood we in my generation had. I hope when they are all over vote age they get rid of the politicians who stand in the way of sensiable gun laws.Delete
Wow -- this is meaty. I think that quote should be rewritten to say: “Thanks to Dr. Sharpio, she had learned that being a successful person is not ONLY defined by what you have achieved, but MORE by what you have overcome.” Because sometimes, what we've achieved has been landmark -- helped people, made a difference, helped define us not just through the work but at what motivated the work (which can be a good or a bad thing.) There's nothing wrong with being proud of an achievement and recognizing it as a significant part of one's life. As for looking forward or looking back, why can't it be both? I certainly love looking back but despite the gimpy leg and breathing issues and all that jazz, I still look forward to -- well, whatever comes my way (apart from more gimpiness and worse breathing!). I hope to travel (still on the fence there) but if I don't get to Europe, I might just get to a spot in GR or Detroit or Toledo or wherever that I've never been before -- maybe beyond! I'll see something new or meet someone interesting or taste something delicious. I might even learn something! Thing is, we sometimes never know what is important until it happens -- and that COULD be in our futures, we just don't know.ReplyDelete
It's hard to carve out a world of delight and discover when feeling -- to be generous -- less than par. The pity party is too easy to attend to -- and we all go there and often with good reason. But, as with any party, it's always good to know when to leave, when not to overstay the welcome. After all, there might be a better party next door.
I get the depression. I've experienced it too, Jean, and it's a slog. I've had clinical depression in the long-ago past and (more recently) that sporadic depression of realizing what has changed and may never be "the same" or better. And then I paint or read a great book or watch something I enjoy or have a good conversation with a friend... and it's better. Not just marking time but better. "Better" is the first rung of the ladder. Take it one day at a time. And YES. DO share that with the wellness person but make sure to tell her you're not suicidal, just having a mental readjustment due to the fall.
I'm usually a cup is half full kind of person rather half empty. So I'm not really worried I have a clinical depression or long-lasting. Spring getting here will help, too. Getting my income taxes done tomorrow will help too, first time I've had changes that might effect me drastically and once I know one way or the other, I'll be able to deal.Delete
I love how you refined the F. Flagg quote.
I think you have had a lot of changes in your life over the past couple of years, what with the move, etc. Add in your brother's move and your accident and I can see how it could all seem a bit much and bring you down. I'm sure you will regain your equilibrium in no time. Hopefully you'll get back into your art soon. (And no, I don't think God puts things in your path, I think we each make our own path) Stay well. VivReplyDelete
I know you're right and there are some stresses with the family I don't write about out of respect for their privacy, stuff I glad I can help with by being a sounding board. As for staying well, I've started back in the gym for exercise and the is making me feel better.Delete
Thanks to your post I started reading the book & so far enjoying it. My husband is my spiritual guru, I always tell him how come I never met certain people before & I find them exactly at the right time when I needed them. his response is always same those people, books all were always there now you are present enough to notice them. I find it as small miracles in my life like I always found right people, books, support groups and ofcourse you when I needed them most at the right time. I choose to look at is wonders of the world. & I like the definition of successful people quote by author.ReplyDelete
another good news our son finally finished his MD degree & going to become pediatrician. I know he will be best pediatrician, he is really good with kids.
Your husband and I often have agreed on stuff like this, haven't we. He's a good guy to have in your life. I didn't know your son picked his specialty! You've got a lot to be proud of and I know your stroke had a huge influence on his having the right balance of patient empathy to go with high IQ.Delete
Dying isn't something I have thought much about until the last few years now it is present in my thoughts more then I would like and since his accident Tim also has thought about it, not nice thoughts at allReplyDelete
I think it would be hard not to think about dying when you have a major health incident. Most of us make peace with what's coming then we find the best lane to move forward in.Delete
You've just been through a lot, so please be gentle with yourself. Be patient and think of times when you've been in the "flow state" and move in that direction.ReplyDelete
Take care! ❤️
Thanks for reminding me about activity with the chart. I actually started using the gym again maybe a week ago (?) and that is helping with my menial and physical outlook.Delete
This post hit home with me and I’m giving it lots of thought.ReplyDelete
I’m not religious, so I think life and what happens to you, is just chance, luck, at what is. And we try to make the best of it.
As we age and get closer to death, I think it’s normal to begin to have some fear or dread or thinking about what purpose we have served.
I think about death a lot, but more making sure I have all my ducks in order because I’m a childless widow with older friends who will likely die before me. I fear the thought of never existing again even though I won’t ever know it. It’s hard to wrap my mind around that.
As far as purpose, I think we make too much of that. I think purpose is the little things we both do and enjoy and the little things we do for others. Not everyone can be a doctor or a rocket scientist, nor do they want to be. I m satisfied with the little simple things.
My folks rarely used the Love word, but I think it was a generational thing. We hear it much more today and sometimes I wonder if it’s just become a cliche at times kinda like …"have a nice day". You mean it, but it’s sort of a surface thing, not deep. Real love is shown by actions more so.
I get mildly depressed at times, for sure. Mostly from feeling a bit lonely and a few regrets from the past..nothing major.
The state of the world doesn’t help either..all the hate and prejudice..madmen in politics, greed, climate change, hints of war etc. there are times I’m glad I’m old and won’t see what could be coming.
I’d feel a bit out of place where you are even though I’m sure it’s a perfect fit for you. I dont like to get gussied up and I’m not in the least religious. I love my home and hope to stay here until the end or go into a nice assisted living with everyday people. I’m not putting your place down, but I just wouldn’t fit in nor want to.
I’m sure your recent fall and rehab didn’t help your mood either. But spring will come and all will look better and our moods will lift. Take care. Mary
The making sure your ducks are in order is more the way I obsess about dying too. One minute I want start donating my stuff to Goodwill so the estate company this place recommends to families to use don't handle my stuff. They cheat families. Then I admonish myself for wanting to control things from the grave tell myself it really doesn't matter in my case since all the good stuff is gone anyway. Then the next minute I think if I go minimalist it's not me and I'll feel even worse,Delete
I think you're right it's a generational think that parent didn't say the "L" word like the do now. I always knew I was loved though.
Times are so much different now then when we were kids, with the depressing state of the world. Up until recent years I was proud that our generation, like all those before us, would be leaving a better world behind than we came into. Now that is no longer true and it shames
me on so many levels. I don't want to do like so many others here do---stop watching all media because that just makes it easier for the politicians who are destroying democracy to better accomplish their mission. Yes, I don't want to get on a soap box again and be the little boy who cries while no one is listening. I have limited my TV time from a few hours a day when most of my adult life it was on the minute I get up to the minute I go to bed.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your thought processes, etc.
"I grew up in a family that didn’t say the 'L' word often." Ditto. It made me wary of people who bandy the word about even though I now realize many are sincere. Like you I believe you become aware of things when the time is right: when the student is ready the teacher will come. As for answering the doctor's questions honestly, anything you feel now may just be the after effects of your recent fall, rehab, and the meds you took. More situational + temporary than a personality shift. Your doc will know how you should handle it.ReplyDelete
I never trusted people who said the "L" word too soon, either. And in all cases of guys I dated before my husband they did throw it around carelessly. Someone should popularize the phrase "I lust you." LOLDelete
My doctor's appointment is two weeks away. By then I could be out of my funk. I never stay down for long and I'm a little apprehensive about having that word appear on a medical form. Have to decide why I feel that way before I'd mention it if in two weeks I'm still thinking I am.
I was forced to confront my own mortality when I was 50 and had a serious cancer diagnosis (20% chance of making it to 55). That experience profoundly shaped my attitudes about ageing (I know the alternative is not staying young) and dying. Twenty-five years later, I realize that brush with death greatly enriched my life, teaching me to savor every day as a gift. At 75, I still look forward to each day and each year as a new adventure to be experienced. I am reminded of a film I used to use when I was teaching that followed a middle-aged woman with breast cancer for the final year of her life. When someone asked her what she wanted to be doing when she died, her answer was "living."ReplyDelete
I can sure understand how an early brush with mortality can greatly form your attitude and outlook on living. I have a friend going through cancer right now. She was telling my she lost her sister-in-law in her thirties. I've taken life for granted far too long.Delete
Any bad injury makes you more aware of the fragility of Life in general and how just one incident can change everything in the blink of an Eye. I think it's probably quite normal to feel guarded, cautious and mebbe even a bit fearful after an injury, a close call, something we didn't consider could happen to US! There's no coming back from some things and our Logical Mind knows that fact. Our wild Imaginings concoct all kinds of fantasies to the contrary. As I Age my Mortality is facing me too, we've outlived so many peers now that I realize Old Age is indeed a Privilege not afforded to many... and growing Old beats the alternative. My Family say Love a lot, but The Man's Family didn't and I notice how that impacted him and his ability to be in touch with Emotions and connect in a way that is allowing vulnerability. My Kids and Grandkids freely Love and say it often, I feel a connection to people who can say it and like Hugging, since that's how I am and either you are... or you're not. I think a good Hug is what so many people desperately Need these days, it transcends mere Words which can ring so hollow or be disingenuous and easily faked. The right kind of Human Touch, done with Sincerity and without inhibitions, is so authentic that people just FEEL it's Power.ReplyDelete
I'd come across that Woody Allen quote before, and your posting of it made me laugh all over again. I was curious about your internal debate about whether to lie on the Medicare wellness test. I've never in my life taken one of those: curious. If I were feeling a little down on test day, you can bet I'd lie. Well, dissemble. Embroider the truth a bit. Etc. Decades ago I experienced real depression, and I'm fairly sure I could see it coming, if it were to come again. Then, I'd do something about it.ReplyDelete
As for dying, I mostly don't think about it. One reason may be that I've had several experiences that could have ended in death -- a mugging, a serious auto accident, a plunge into icy waters at work, having my passport taken from me by a young man with a gun in the middle of a Monrovian street -- and coming out of those unscathed probably left me with a unreasonably optimistic view of what might come next. My biggest decision is burial or cremation, and I need to figure that one out sooner rather than later. So many questions!
There's quite a cost difference between burial and cremation, if that would figure into your decision.Delete
Wow, you've had quite a few hairy situations that could have gone horribly wrong. You are one lucky lady.
My reasons for thinking I'd lie on a wellness test have to do with me knowing in my heart that I'm not in a clinical depression---just temporary and not deep and thus so I wouldn't want my files tagged with the depression label. You can never get rid of things like that. I got mistakeningly tagged as being allergic to coffee about 20 years ago and every time I'm in a hospital or getting records reviewed it comes up and all attempts to remove it doesn't stick. I don't think people who are marked as clinically depress are taken as seriously when they complain of physical issues.
How do you feel about that wonderful saying "Everything happens for a reason"? A personal "favourite" of mine...ReplyDelete
I like it and have said it a time or two, it was a favorite saying of my moms.Delete
I’m not sure if my comment will reach the light of your blog, as others never did, but here I am anyway! The best part of our current senior lives is enjoying what our hard work has helped us reap. For me, it’s indulging my grandchildren (as you do your niece) with toys and clothes and sports camps, and looking at a calendar with nothing penciled in, and the option to sit on the couch with my iPad all day, with unlimited time to quilt. Your injury has been a bump in the road for you. You are too creative and generous for it to be a permanent slump!ReplyDelete
Your comment made it! Thanks for that!Delete
I know what you mean about enjoying what your hard work has helped us reap. I can't imagine where I'd be living if not for money we put away for a rainy day. I don't really buy my nieces and nephew gifts like I did when they were young but I'm hoping not to spend everything so they'll be something left over for them.
I don't think my bump in the road is permanent either. I'm actually feeling better than when I wrote this post.