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 –
- 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
- 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 ..