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Aging with Grace

This past week I realized that my mom is old. My mom is 82 so it may not come as a surprise to anyone else that she is old, but it did to me, it came as a quiet, creeping up on you kind of surprise.

My mom has always been ‘with it’; you might even say ‘cool’.  She has always been ahead of her time, willing to learn new things, ready to try new adventures, a doer, always in the game, never on the sidelines.  And even in her oldest years, she has never seemed ‘old’.

Busy five days a week, Grace has always been active; dancing, table tennis, bridge, exercise class, the Casino, so this week, when I realized that she had actually gotten old, aged without me seeing it, I was surprised, and saddened.

It didn’t come as a thunderbolt; it came to me slowly, a little bit of information at a time.  This week at the grocery store, she moved more slowly, it took us longer to shop for her list, and she referred to that list more than once, reminding herself of what she had already bought, had yet to buy.  She apologized for taking too much of my time, for making me wait too long at the bank, for not being able to find her money quickly, and for being, well, old.

She seems worried more and sometimes even troubled, at what’s going on out there.  She is more timid, finds things more annoying, and gets mad quickly, sometimes at others, sometimes at herself.  It’s almost as though she is looking in from the outside, not really a part of what’s going on.  And so, I am sad, to see her changing, to recognize that she is different, to know I can’t change it, and to want to save her from it, to keep her safe, to make her happy.  I love her and I want her to be ok, always.  And I want her to be here, always.

And so, I decide I need to be more patient, to be sure that nothing I say upsets her, to walk a little more slowly when we are together, and to help to ease her troubled mind, to try and make her laugh.  And I decide too, to grieve a little, for the mom I see slipping away and for a time when she won’t need me, when she will no longer be here.

But mostly I remind myself to be grateful.  My mom is here and sharing our home, she is not undergoing chemotherapy, doesn’t have dementia, doesn’t’ need a walker or a wheelchair.  She requires no personal care, pays her own bills, does her own laundry, thinks for herself, and still travels to faraway places.  So, if old is all I am dealing with, I think I can cope, and I shall count my blessings – of which it appears, I have many!