I’ve just become old old.
It can sneak up on you. In my case, it became obvious after the death of a hoarder in my household. Changing the floor plan is taking a serious amount of physical labor, the type I haven’t faced for some years. It turns out I can’t do the heavy lifting anymore.
I define old old as the time the essence of YOU begins to change. As you age, your aches increase, you find new pains, your memory becomes flighty; we all know that. We soldier on, though, tottering where we used to walk, avoiding math problems at all costs, reciting poetry that has been dormant in our brains since Miss Binder instilled it in junior high.
Unless you are decimated by early-onset dementia, most of us are lucky enough to still be US under these weighted blankets of physical decline.
So. As I was saying in paragraph one, before I interrupted myself with paragraph two, physical aging just dealt a serious blow to my image of myself. It is changing who I am. I was raised to solve my own problems. You didn’t ask a friend to help move that sleeper sofa or come paint a room for you or organize your garage. You did it yourself, or you hired it done. This is not meant as any sort of moral judgment, right or wrong. It’s just how Sis and I were raised. And I now feel diminished because I have to change that lifelong pattern.
I’m trying to accept help without snapping like a wolverine. A brave friend lectured me: “You’ve always been generous with your time, now accept it from others and quit being a butthead.” She said this while diverting me like a cutting pony as her husband carted a recliner up my stairs.
Another friend installed two overhead lights, knowing I have vertigo issues. A neighbor is making inroads in the garage. Another is fixing the broken lantern at the base of the driveway. What the heck? Do I pay them? Does that insult them to the core? For sure I won’t cook anything for them … everyone knows the sad truth about my cooking.
The reality of my new “help me” self is settling in. I don’t like it. I didn’t mind aging so much when it was just achy joints. Now that it’s “somebody else has to do it, or it won’t get done” … well, that is a bitter pill for an independent cuss. My thank-yous are over the top with emotion. I can’t seem to express simple gratitude without startling my friends by my blubbering and embarrassing subservience.
I must get better at this.
Of course, the reverse problem could happen in the near future. I may come to like it. I could blossom into a queen surrounded by overworked drones. But I doubt it. Living like you are on a perpetual cruise is not necessarily living.
For now, I’m going to the language lab to work on a simple, “Thank you for your help.”
Linda B. Myers is a founding member of Olympic Peninsula Authors. Her newest historical novel, “Dr. Emma’s Improbable Happenings,” is available at Port Book and News, One of a Kind Gallery, and on Amazon.com. Contact her at email@example.com.