Doing some unburdening

Today I write, I warn you, entirely narcissistically (I almost got lost among those syllables: forgive me if I wandered off the path) and lengthily. There are those who will claim I do that all the time, of course; and to them I offer nothing  more than a scornful laugh and a toss of the head ..

About aging. Or ageing, as I prefer to write it, incorrectly,

I am able to grasp that it happens to all of us – every single one. That no-one can prevent its happening to her or him (not even Cher the astoundingly beautiful but no longer; not even my absolute hero, Barack Obama). I know it and I accept it. But.

I want to do it at my own pace.

I don’t mean that I intend to eke it out so that I age at half the rate of anyone else. And I don’t mean that I want it to happen kind of evenly, with no rushing ahead or slowing down.

I mean that I do not want to be cast into an ageing mould created by other people.

I will turn into a doddering old fart when my brain is no longer able to prevent me from doing so — not when people around me think I am already one because of my circumstances.

Slight divergence ..

I am a resident under the auspices of an aged care facility: it is called Multicultural Aged Care Services, and bruited abroad as MACS (of course). MACS consists of two areas of care –

  1. A 2-storey building called ‘Bella Chara’ (everywhere within MACS is named after someone – possibly a major donor). B.C. is for those who are not able to look after themselves completely, having some care needs. And
  2. The main part of the complex, real aged care, divided into several parts with their several names. Herein reside bed-ridden people with full-time care needs. This is by far the biggest area.

And there is a third part — us: eight fully independent rentals, known impressively as Independent Living Units; and we ILUs get no care at all. We are simply residents for whom MACS is our landlord. The units are very nice, very open, very much glass – too much for me, as in the mornings I can never find anywhere I’m able to be on my laptop comfortably .. reflections and light coming from all directions. (Did I hear you mutter “What a whinger !” ? You’re probably right ..) The units have gardens, and with the help and guidance of a long-time friend, mine is becoming something to look at.

So you can tell that this is a place I’m lucky to’ve found — although it found me,  but that’s another story ..

The units’ residents are getting on; in fact, walkers are a common sight. Mind you, needing a walker doesn’t automatically mean the brain needs help ..

End of divergence.

I bounced in to MACS in early May 2019 with nary a thought about how I was pigeon-holing myself. For a good while I could see that I am more agile than everyone else, and definitely younger at heart as well as younger, physically; but “how meaningful is  all that ?!”, I asked myself gaily as ILU neighbours would struggle past on their daily Very Short Walks.

Gradually I came to understand.

This place is turning me into An Old Woman. I mean, REALLY old. An irritable, demanding, churlish old woman.

And I am not ready to be an old woman.

Am I being clear ? – or merely confusing ?

Well .. I readily acknowledge that I’m 77; and many people will immediately think “So you ARE fucking old ! – what’s your problem ?!”.

It’s what’s going on inside my head. In there I’m still the same — interesting, funny, clever .. everything I once was, she said modestly. Well, I was, so there ! [grin]

I don’t want to be shut down before I’m ready because those around me see me as just another ancient – one more old duck in their aged care premises. I don’t want to have maintenance blokes turning up to check various bits of the unit without my having been advised they’re coming. I don’t want to have my mail seized and sat on by admin until it’s been judged as free from outside contamination (yesyes, I do get that this is something reflective of the times). I don’t like it when I ask for something to be repaired and someone from admin accompanies the repairman and expects to come in here for supervisory purposes. I don’t like being considered in that light.

I am an independent woman.

I lived alone from the time I was sent away from home in 1965 to the time I met my incomparable husband in 1974. And after he died, at the beginning of 2006, I was once again on my own. (For six years I was living off-planet, connected to it only  by the thread joining me to my superb grief counsellor Dianne McKissock; and she had  become able to pull on it hard enough to bring me down, then.) I’ve been living on my own, looking after myself and having no-one interfere in any aspect  of doing that for the major part of my adult life.

I don’t believe I can wear this gradual loss of my identity any longer: it’s stealing the rest of my life away — gently, insidiously, thieving the years.

And I don’t have all that many left.

Whether or not any of this rave makes sense, I can only think to myself chissà ? Who knows if anyone of my generation can read and understand this, let alone anyone born after I was ..

I will agree that the lengthy Stage 3 restrictions are partly instrumental in forcing me to cogitate and eventually produce for my own scrutiny thoughts like these.

But do I agree, too, that once restrictions are lifted and people can once again visit, etc., my thinking will change and become less dissatisfied ..?

I do not. I know me.

The time for a reckoning draws near ..

28 thoughts on “Doing some unburdening

  1. This pandemic has clearly caused much consternation, M.R. I think it will be much better when it is over.
    People are frightened, especially I imagine in Victoria and sitting tight.
    We could use this time productively which might help with the cabin fever and I am sure you are doing just that. What is it you want to do but can’t?
    Cyranny’s Cove run a Zoom blogger meetup on Sundays I think, if you want verbal interaction.
    And get a blockout curtain for goodness sake!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You made me laugh !! I like it when people tell me they’re irritated with me. [grin]
      Nothing to to with being on my own right now: it’s the normal environment that’s got me spitting. I shall post again on this next week.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this. It does indeed make sense. I hope you’ll find a way to keep your neighbours young rather than letting the environment make you feel ‘old’. Your attitude reminds me ver much of my granny who eventually moved to a similar set up 10 or so years after my grandfather died. She livened the place up a bit and at the age of 94 decided she’d had her time. I never really thought of her as old even then. I certainly don’t see you that way through the internet. Rather, vital and marvellous come to mind!! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michelle ! – you make me very happy, you crocheting superpower. I am looking at a possibly radical solution, about which I’ll post next week; and then I’ll stop whingeing. :D

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You know, when my grandmother was sick and for a short time we used the help of a care facility, I noticed that the stuff tends to infantilize the people there. Which is a weird way to treat people like they are really old, by treating them like children, if that makes sense? I was always baffled by that – they were adult people who maybe needed some help but in many cases, they were able to ask for it, so why treat them like kids who can’t make their own decisions? Weird. So I think I can imagine what you’re describing.
    Also, 78 is not “fucking old” – that’s just 10 years more than my mother and she is younger in her heart than many of my peers (and I’m 40)! You have a young spirit and I have a feeling that you have a plan on how to deal with this attitude of the stuff in your facility, so I wish you luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Maybe that’s what I mean, Kat ! – I haven’t stopped to think about that .. Your observations of your grandma under care can only be useful to someone like me, struggling with it all even though not here for that purpose. Goodonyermate ! :D
    It isn’t really, is it ? I s’pose I’m going back to my childhood, when women in their 70s had horrid perms and very often walking sticks. The times they have a-changed, alright: mine is the first generation to get stuck into rock and dope and all that jazz stuff. Which probably means that we are the ones doing the most whingeing ! [grin]

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  5. I’ve come across from Whispering Gums M-R, and I think your situation is tough. I got talking to a woman who lives in a retirement village here and she tells me none of the other residents go out or have any interests other than watching television – and the way they clock her out and clock her in every day is driving her nuts. She goes out as much as she can to stay sane.
    I can understand your frustration – if it was your own home you wouldn’t have to have your mail quarantined or have someone supervise a repairman for you.
    Stay vibrant M-R!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s it, Sue ! – it’s a bit like being back in school, somehow or other .. waiting for the next admin person to give me instructions about something.
    I doubt I can get used to it: I’m too stroppy.
    I was thrilled to be here because of the ‘safety’ of seeing out my days. Now I see that I’m paying too high an emotional price.
    Watch this space.

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  7. First, before the rest! Griffith Review should have had this piece M-R. My reading group commented that while there were pieces from seventy-somethings, including the indomitable Garner, there were none from someone experiencing Aged Care. That’s a shame.

    Next though. What you are living in, it sounds, is essentially a retirement village situation, One that also has aged care on-site. Many in retirement villages would like to be in ones that have onsite Aged Care because it makes the transition simpler, if you get to that point.

    I hear you regarding independence but I do hope you aren’t going to throw out the baby with the bathwater! TBH, I can’t wait to have someone supervise maintenance. Well, Mr Gums is pretty good at it, actually, but we are both thinking about retirement villages, for those sorts of reasons – for someone else to do some of those tedious maintenance and care things, to be able to close the door and go away for a week and not have to worry too much about security etc. Our feeling is that the more we divest ourselves of those practical things anyone can do, the more energy we can focus on the things we love doing.

    Independence, in the end, I think, is mostly in the mind. If people want to help, I say let them. What’s important is what I know about myself, how I feel inside about who I am. If someone offers me a seat on a bus, I take it. My early grey hair has been a boon this way. 😀 My brother thought it was funny that a neighbour brought us a casserole during early COVID. She’s early 50s, we are late 60s. I think he saw it as her helping the street’s “old ducks” but I think it was because she knew we were having a demanding time with hospital visiting etc. But really, I don’t care why she did it, because the casserole was great and I know I can still feed myself! That’s the important thing. In other words, I really don’t care what others think about me – I just notice and laugh – all I care about is what I know about me. It’s a bit more complex than that I know but I think it’s worth thinking this way – I’ll come back and complain when my kids start treating me as infirm before I’m ready! 😀

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    1. The trouble is, Sue, that we have led our different lives.
      Chic was brilliant with – everything. Since he single-handedly built us a house, you will understand that he was without peer re maintenance. So as I am used to its being done well, I am not happy with its being done badly and worse, done badly under supervision in my house. You could well live here and be wonderfully happy with Mr Gums. I live here and am not so, and not just because Chic isn’t still with me: Autres temps autres moeurs. I do know who I am, and I need to hold on to that; but here it’s being hammered out of me, little by little.
      I’m not a team player and never have been. Never pretended to be. I won’t be forced into a mould that neither fits nor suits me.
      Think kindly of retirement villages. This isn’t one.

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      1. I’m really sorry M-R. I thought you had found a good place where you were secure and independent.

        BTW Mr Gums is Mr Maintenance. He’s a traditional engineer who is very meticulous and who hovers over any tradies who come here watching, suggesting and/or asking questions because he also likes to learn.

        But, I am a team player. I LOVE working with a team, being in a team. I quite like coordinating teams – I seem to be the one who coordinates my reading group, my patchwork group, my JA group (and have for years and years and years). I’m happy to do it as long as I feel we are in this together and have each other’s backs.

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        1. It comes from all the ways I’ve earned a crust, I think – or, more probably, because no team could possibly match up to the family group for intelligence and wit. I’m sorry if that sounds pain-in-the-(_|_)ish, I don’t know how to put it another way ..

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          1. Fair enough. I tend to like all sorts of groups and people (as you can tell – haha!!!) as long as they are decent, humane, kind, well-intentioned. That sounds a bit anodyne I suppose, but the world is made of all sorts and I like to get on with as many of them as possible. (I do though, love wit and intelligence, which my kids in particular provide in spades. I don’t know where they got it from!)

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  8. BTW I want to add what I wrote on my blog. We ARE ageing. The question is how do WE perceive it, and how do OTHERS perceive it? Perhaps there’s some gentle teaching to be done? I hate it, for example when media reports that “an elderly couple” was involved in some accident or other, and you find out they are in their 60s or 70s. I accept being old, but elderly to me is really when you are physically and/or mentally frail and really need help.

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    1. Of course we are: did I say anything to the contrary ? – or give that impression ? Hope not.
      Your question is precisely my problem, m’dear !
      Who is to teach whom ? – and how ?

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      1. Just wanted to make sure! I think the older person needs to teach the younger ones but it’s all about people being open to listening and understanding and reacting appropriately isn’t it? I’m not sure how flexible your place is. My parents retirement village operated a bit along the way yours sounds to be, though their maintenance man does not have a supervisor there with him. That was Mum. And, I think because they do not have attached aged care, their mail does not go through the admin centre but straight into their mail boxes. As for people you meet in the streets, shops etc, we just have to show by our actions that we are compos and capable!

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        1. Do you suspect that I don’t ? [grin]
          And btw, the phrase “retirement village” doesn’t apply: my entire problem springs from the fact that I am living within the precincts of an aged care home, Sue.

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          1. It sounds like a bit different to the ones I know here where there are retirement units joined to an aged care complex but the retirement part really receives basic support but not the sort of supervision you are describing. Indeed, one we looked at, Mum and Dad would have liked more – such as the complex taking responsibility for the garbage bin which M&D didn’t have the strength to wheel up to the road. Where they ended up – a retirement village only – they were in a unit – and there were garbage bins in the garage right near the lift and their car, so garbage could be taken down to those bins really easily in little bags. Horses for courses, as you say.

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  9. We did a stint of volunteering at an aged care facility, but pulled the pin when we realised all we were focusing on was old age. I’m with you M.R, If you can, definitely move on. I know it’s damned expensive, but staying I’m sure will continue to take its toll. If necessary get rid of your stuff, that’ll leave you free to choose anything that suits without considering if your ‘stuff’’ fits. Otherwise you’ll end up mimicking those that sit in their chairs waiting for God. It doesn’t take long to get more stuff, so you don’t need to only look for furnished. A bed, a fridge and a chair will get you started.

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    1. I’m currently waiting on either of two applications, Chris: two quite different environments but either totally acceptable. If you are a god-botherer you may pray for me; or if you are a heathen like me you may mentally wish me everything I wish myself.
      So glad you can see that the focus is bad for me – and only for me. For everyone else here it’s fine and dandy.
      Now, kindly go back to your blog and arrange for us to be able to write insulting things after your posts, please. [grin]

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  10. Well I won’t be praying for you as I’m an atheist, or should I say, staunch atheist. The waiting for God was just a terminology. In reading your blog I sensed a mirror of how I know I’d feel if I wasn’t able to control my own environment. Fingers will be crossed that one of the two comes up heads for you. I’ll look forward to reading about your new move.

    Liked by 1 person

Go on - you can say it. :)

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