Will You Still Love Me When I’m 64?

I had a birthday this week. I’m 64. Every time I say or think 64, that Beatles song cranks up in my head. I wonder if that’ll happen for the whole year.

When my dad was 64, he lived in a nursing home. He was an alcoholic and an insulin-dependent diabetic who fell, broke his hip and went through DT’s in the hospital which caused wildly unstable blood sugar. So instead of surgery, he spent 6 weeks in traction in the hospital. He had a stroke  while in traction and never went back home. He spent the next 7 years in a wheelchair in nursing homes, slowly deteriorating mentally until there were no shreds left of the dynamic salesman he had been. He was 69 when he died after another srroke.

When my mother was 64, she lived alone, visited my dad every day and barely ate. I think she was anorexic most of  my life. (Thank you, Jackie Kennedy.) She fell while having a stoke, broke a hip and ended up in the same nursing home as my father. She was there, using a wheelchair, for 3 years. He died first.  She eventually stopped eating completely and died a few months after dad at barely 70.

I had pneumonia a few weeks ago. I complained to one of my daughters that I had no appetite and no energy. She told me I had to eat so I didn’t end up a frail old lady like Grandma.

I want to make a sign to hang in my office–the word FRAIL in big black letters circled in red with a diagonal line through the word FRAIL.

I stopped drinking years ago because I didn’t want to turn into my dad. He was an unhappy man who emotionally abused my mother. I’m not like that.

Right before I got sick, I made an appointment with a trainer to begin to recapture some of the strength I’ve lost during the last 2 1/2 years of one surgery after another. I am embarrassed by my lack of fitness, no matter how many times I tell myself I’ve done the best I could.

I’ve read Brene Brown books about shame and resilience. I’m still ashamed. (If you haven’t read her, you might try one from the library. Or listen to her TED talk. You won’t be sorry.)

I hate the idea of being seen as weak or incompetent. I know I can be emotionally strong and resilient. I will try to tap into that strength to have the will to patiently and kindly build my physical strength. I wish I thought it would be fun. I do think it is necessary. I don’t want to be frail like my mom.

A friend shared this poem with me recently. It’s by Jan Richardson from a book called Circle of Grace.

Blessing of the Body

This blessing takes

one look at you

and all it can say is

holy.

Holy hands.

Holy face.

Holy feet.

Holy everything

in between

 

Holy even in pain.

Holy even when weary.

In brokenness, holy.

In shame, holy still.

Holy in delight.

Holy in distress.

Holy when being born.

Holy when we lay it down

at the hour of our death.

 

So, friend,

open your eyes

(holy eyes).

For one moment

see what this blessing sees,

this blessing that knows

how you have been formed

and knit together

in wonder and

in love.

 

Welcome this blessing

that folds its hands

in prayer

when it meets you;

receive this blessing

that wants to kneel

in reverence

before you—

you who are

temple,

sanctuary,

home for God

in this world.

Published in: on March 18, 2016 at 10:38 am  Comments (2)  
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A Confession, Some Questions, and Maybe Some Answers

1.  I am a terrible gift-picker-outer.  My biggest challenge is the retired man I live with.  He needs nothing, absolutely nothing.  And anything he wants, he gets for himself when he wants it.  He doesn’t do delayed gratification.  So Valentine’s Day paralyzed me.  All creativity left my brain.  And I had nothing.

Well, I did offer to make him stuffed cabbage for dinner, but he said, “Oh no, that’s too much trouble. You don’t need to do that.  I’ll fix something.”  Sigh.

To make this worse, he’s good at gifts.  For Valentine’s Day, he gave me a box of Chapel Hill toffee/dark chocolate candy from Whole Foods.  Let me explain: We met and fell in love in Chapel Hill while we were both in school at UNC.  And Heath Bar is my all-time favorite candy and Ben and Jerry’s flavor.  His gift makes you go “Awww”, doesn’t it?  I know–I’m a lucky woman.

2.  Do you worry about wrinkles from smiling?  This is from a blog, “The Daily Round”, that I read:

…a British woman, now 50, who has avoided smiling “for the last 40 years…to ward off wrinkles.” She says she didn’t smile when her child was born, nor at family celebrations or gatherings with friends, insisting her lack of facial wrinkles has made these efforts worthwhile.

Do I read this right? She stopped smiling at 10 YEARS OLD to prevent wrinkles? How do you even do that–not smile?  Does she have any friends? Does her family come around her?  I need more information.  This story has been stuck in my brain for days.

3.  Someone at church Sunday told me I have “fortitude.”  She said I just keep going no matter what.  I googled “fortitude.”  The definition is “strength of mind that allows one to endure pain or adversity with courage.”

I’ve wondered about “resilience” lately, too.  I found 2 definitions.  (1) The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune.  (2) The property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed.  The second describes how I feel some days.

Where do fortitude and resilience come from?

4.  We talked about the Celtic term “thin places” in Sunday School last week.  They are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine.  My favorite thin place is beside the ocean, one of those places where spirituality and science overlap.

The ocean generates negative ions.

According to mounting research, there really is something in the air at the beach. Because of the constant crashing and movement of the waves, the beach contains high levels of negative ions. Negative ions appear to have a positive effect on health and mood. They are produced when moving water, wind, and radiation break apart air molecules. What’s left is an oxygen molecule with an extra electron.

High concentrations of negatively charged ions have long been thought to affect the way you feel and there’s now supporting evidence they can boost mood, ease depression, and even improve physical health. Negative ions can also be found in high concentrations at waterfalls, in the mountains, and immediately after a summer rain storm. Even your shower or the fountain in the park produces negative ions.

These special air particles are actually biologically active when they enter the body, yet how they work is still unknown.

Indoor environments tend to have very low levels of negative ions. Our modern lifestyle is to thank for that. Computers, electrical appliances, and air conditioning all contribute to negative ion depletion.

So do negative ions create thin places?  Is God in that extra electron on the oxygen molecule we breathe in?

5.  Asked by a man named Jim in a group with people who are HIV positive:

What if you woke up tomorrow and all you had was what you thanked God for today?