Sunday, March 10, 2019

Trying Not To Act My Age

I write this from the home of my father and mother in-law's living room. We are here in small-town Gorham, New York for a 3 day visit with my wife's parents. It is a big trip, a 12 hour drive. We didn't make it back for the holidays and wanted to get back. Her mother is battling dementia and has good days and bad days.

I came into the weekend with great apprehension. Frankly, I was worried that she wouldn't remember me. There are days she doesn't remember her daughter or her husband. So, to bring "the son in-law" who she hasn't seen in over a year, I was expecting the worst. Couple that with some stories of her getting flustered and angry and, well, I had low hopes for the weekend.

Well, it has been a really good stay. Really good.

We have had some good laughs as a family. My mother in-law has been extremely pleasant to be around. Of course there are the repeated questions, "How old are your kids, now? How long does it take you to get here? Where do you live, again?" I also went from being Jim, to "the tall guy" to someone she didn't know or want to.

I knew these moments would happen and both my wife and I answer with politeness. We are here to enjoy her company and to love her. There are moments of great clarity and tenderness mixed in with those of confusion. Dementia is a horrible disease and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Then, last night we had dinner with a friend who went to college with my wife. I haven't seen her in nearly 29 years. She is a university professor with a specialty in deaf geography. (Studying the evolution of American Sign Language, from European to America. We had a nice dinner filled with laughter, reminiscing and catching up. We picked up where we'd left off.

But the weekend has reminded me of my mortality and my own aging as well. I've taken a couple of long walks down the country roads of my wife's hometown and it has caused a little introspection. As I passed her old house, I thought of the memories and times we had there with our kids and their cousins.

As I walked, Rod Stewart's song, Forever Young came on and I thought it was incredibly ironic given all that I'd been a part of over the past few days. None of us are getting younger. Yet, age is also a state of mind, and that is as important as any of it. Despite a few nagging owwies, I still feel young. And there were some great lyrics to the song.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you

-From, "Forever Young," by Rod Stewart.

Later, I got an ear worm from another band, the Chameleons. It is weird how these things come into my head, but again, the song had some poignant lyrics for my weekend.

Where are we?
First and last, bound together in our past
Much too cruel, much too fast
Much too quick to anger
I suppose, years ago, years ago
I might have known
I suppose
Years ago
Traps laid bare in my face
Said to keep me in my place
Waved goodbye to the child
and life it seems is colder
-From, "Thursday's Child" by, The Chameleons
So as I drive back to Wisconsin, I will have much to ponder. Not the least of which, is enjoying time with family when I can, taking care of my health and my spouse and making the big trip when the big trip needs to be made.

Blogging off...

3 comments:

Jo Balistreri said...

Jim,
Your blogs always give me things to think about, and I truly love reading them for they are so fresh, so sincere. And there is often a laugh or too also. This was a poignant blog. So glad you and Donna were able to spend time with her parents.

Mary Kitzel said...

Lovely to see you both, Jim. Time seems to compress and telescope when you see friends after many years, doesn't it. Thank you for the lovely meal and the gift of your time. I'm already looking forward to your next visit.

Jim Landwehr said...

Thanks to both of you for your comments. I always forget to check these things! Great seeing you too MB.