In our 70s, we’ve left the land of level footing. (That’s assuming that we bought into that illusion earlier, felt secure in this life.) Once we reach 70, no one will exclaim “They were so young!” should we fall off the edge of the world. Friends die or lose their way to conditions which radically alter their life. Our frailty is writ large.
I never wanted to be a woman with spots on her blouse, whiskers on her chin, sneaky flatulence, but here I am. My hair is grey. I’ve two replaced hips, two high-tech hearing aids, bifocals, arthritis everywhere and teeth that are wearing down. I’m old.
It’s not all bad. When the world is too much for me, I can remove my hearing aids and descend into silence. (I do this often on planes to stifle their roar. I don’t remember them being so loud years ago.) I am a great roommate. I can sleep through anyone’s snoring. In groups, I make ridiculous remarks based on what I’ve heard which is often completely off the mark. I am used to this and just laugh. I live in an alternate dimension. Removing my hearing aids at day’s end is right up there with removing my bra. Ah….
Physical pain is something I work around. When people grab my hands, my polar bear thumbs scream. I remind my partner not to do this. I use hemp cream and NSAID gel with wild abandon. I am growing a bunion. ( I thought they went out with bustles and hoop skirts but no…) I had nerves in my neck cauterized recently, which helped with the neck pain and migraines.
I’ve had migraines since my 40’s. They run in the family. I take prophylactic meds and use Motrin and Amerge. Everyone has something. My mother had two terrible battles with cancer. I’ll take the arthritis and migraines! I get interesting visual effects from the headaches- colored letters and numbers cascading down a dark background. I wonder sometimes if that is information leaving my brain. Headaches leave me very calm. Poems come easily then.
I love the historical perspective of being 71. I knew my parter’s mother and grandmother as we were growing up on the same block. That means I knew his grandchildren’s great great grandmother. How terrific is that? I remember Winston Churchill and Ike and Martin Luther King Jr.. I was in Morocco at the time of the moon landing. I can sing the songs of the Civil Rights Movement. I remember the Freedom March.
I was educated when the idea of a liberal arts education was a good thing. I am grateful for that. I studied African Literature in college. I have seen that continent come and go from hope more than once. I have learned that no country or continent has a lock on hope, democracy or freedom.
I know that now it’s time to put my life in order. I have a POA, a DNR order and a will but they need review. I also must decide what to do with my bones once they’ve stopped supporting me. Perhaps something can be used. My eyes are great. My hips can go into the recycle bin. One friend is leaving her body to the Cadaver Dog folks for training dogs to search for the dead after a disaster. I like that. Medical schools need cadavers too. Washington state just voted to allow bodies to be composted. That is my favorite. Let me go to ground.
Please no box, no steel
to seal me from the earth.
Return me when it is my time
to all I was and wish to be again.
Release me to be born anew,
green and wonderful each Spring –
shoots sprouting from my heart
each part of me blooming.