Tag Archive | aging

Ever have one of those days…

I know it’s Friday. My brain is fried.

I signed up for two websites this week and forgot to record the passwords. I’ve wracked my brain and no clue or hint has remained behind to lead me back. Normally I record them in a spreadsheet designed specifically to aid my memory. These two aren’t listed. At all.

Yesterday, after getting dressed for work, I stepped out of the bedroom and realized I’d forgotten a critical undergarment. One I never forget in normal circumstances. And one which I cannot remember ever having forgotten before in my life.

I have no excuse for these lapses. Or at least none that I like.

Aging, perimenopause, and lack of sleep are possibilities. And I do not like any of them. I’m not ready to be “old.”

Crash

I crashed this week. Fibro flare. Precipitated by the death of my 13.5 year old, 80 lb yellow lab, Penny of Perpetual Motion. I barely got out of bed. Everything hurt. My hair hurt. And most of all, my soul was hurting. I finally went back to work today for 4 hours and my office mate barely spoke to me. I must have offended her in some way and I didn’t have the energy to ask her about it or to deal with it.

Today, I called the vet to help my mom’s ancient three-legged Siamese leave this world. I was horrified to find he was still alive last night and hadn’t eaten in three days and she had twice asked someone else to take him out for burial only to be told “He’s still breathing.”

Mickey was her last mental/emotional barrier to leaving her home. She felt no one would adopt him. Even though I’ve already promised her that my hubby and I will take all three of her cats if something happens. At any rate, it wasn’t right that Mickey should suffer. I told her last night that she should give him permission to go and that if he was still alive in the morning she needed to call the vet. I called the vet. I didn’t give her an option. And I asked the vet to meet me at Mom’s at 2:15 after I got off work.  The vet asked me if there was any possibility she would be saving the cat. I told her I was pretty sure he was too far gone. He hadn’t moved in four days and he’d had nothing to eat or drink in three days.

I called Mom on my way to her house and told her the vet was on the way. She was still in bed so I told her she had half an hour before the vet got there to get her act together. Mom acquiesced and was up and in the living room by the time I got there. The vet called to ask if we still needed her and I told her that Mom said he was still breathing earlier. So she headed in our direction. And I went out to check on Mickey. When I touched him he was hard as a rock so I knew he was gone. When the vet got there, she said “Let’s make sure.” She picked him up and he was stiff as a brick. She said “I’m good, but I’m not that good.” Meaning there was no help she could give him. She got out a heavy duty body bag and I moved him outside where the snowy landscape would keep him until someone could bury him.

I know what she’s lost. I had so much pain from losing Penny I couldn’t cope. Yes, I know she’s in a better place where she can chase the ball again. And I miss her. As one of my friend’s put it, “I can’t even imagine trying to fill that big hole.” Penny was a very big presence in my life, as Mickey was in my mom’s life. Farewell faithful friends!

Penny and Thomas_12Sep2008

Overwhelmed

It can’t be just me… Life seems to catch up and then overtake me and like a tsunami I wash up on the shore wondering what the hell happened… All my good intentions lie strewn about like so much flotsam… swallowed and vomited up… still recognizable but now I need to gather them back together. Dust them off. Clean them up. Straighten them out. Sort them into categories. Restore some semblance of order.

I struggle. I want to take better care of my senior mother, my senior pets, my neglected husband and myself. And I want to write. And then fibromyalgia confines me to my bed unable to think for a week. And my mother has weekly appointments with physical therapy and the chiropractor and the ophthalmologist and the dentist and the radiation oncologist. And my dog, Penny, needs weekly vet visits. And my husband hates his job and wants to quit. And the house needs cleaning. And I want to be there for my friends as they cry for lost loved ones and rejoice at the end of cancer treatment. And my body craves sleep. And then I can’t sleep until it’s almost time for the alarm to go off. And I go to work because I need health care and money to pay for food and shelter and vet bills….

Short Story – The Scroll

Story prompt: The story’s protagonist is female and a tax collector. A barn plays a significant part in the story. The story is set in a library in ancient times. The story is about aging.

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She rambled down the aisles of the library, randomly looking at scrolls and tablets. She wasn’t expected here and the librarians occasionally scowled in her direction. They weren’t fond of women — educated women were considered to be particularly troublesome. And they were even less fond of tax collectors. Since  she was both, she knew they watched her more closely, and with more animosity than any of the other patrons. And since she was no longer young, she could not distract them with her beauty as she once had. She was still striking although her once jet black hair was streaked with silver and soft lines had appeared around her eyes. The advantage from her perspective was that she was no longer intimidated by their glares. She knew they couldn’t hurt her and they could not stop her. In spite of her gender. It was not a great time to be a woman, although with enough money and power one could still exercise some freedom in Alexandria.

The manuscript she sought was old. Older than anyone here and older than the parents or grandparents of anyone here. The author had been dead for centuries, but she remembered seeing the scroll when she had visited with her father. It seemed like a lifetime ago. She was young then and just starting to realize the power of her looks on those around her. Her father was proud to have a daughter so eager to learn and so pretty.  She still missed her father even though he had been gone for more than 10 years.

She dragged her thoughts back to her task. She tried to remember the general area in which he found the scroll. What was the angle to the librarian’s station? How many rows? How many tables? Based on her memory of that day, she calculated that she had to be pretty close, but how would she recognize the document? Just then she noticed one of the librarians moving an armful of scripts quickly out of the room as if he didn’t want to be seen. He seemed to be checking to see if he was being watched so she looked quickly away before he noticed her gaze. After he left the room she furtively moved down the aisle to see where he had gone. She followed at a distance as he went through two other rooms and then down a set of stairs. She crept down the stairs not knowing what was at the bottom and not wanting him to know she was following. Just as she reached the bottom and peeked over the balustrade, he lifted a trap door with one arm and held it until he had stepped into the hole and replaced the door above his head. She knew she didn’t dare follow him down so she looked for a place to hide and waited until he came back out. Once he came up she knew she wouldn’t have a lot of  time to explore the trap door before he returned with another armful, so she moved quickly. Peering down through the trap door she saw more stairs leading to a tunnel and decided to risk it. She descended quickly and ran down the torchlit tunnel as soundlessly as possible until she found another door. Holding her breath, she eased the door open to peek in and saw a chamber with more doors.  Since no one seemed to be around she slipped into the chamber and was approaching the first door when she heard voices behind her. She darted through the door and closed it noiselessly behind her hoping they would not follow her. Luckily they were distracted by their conversation and didn’t notice as she dove behind a partition, when they entered through the same door. She waited while they discussed the movement of the works from the library to these chambers, holding her breath when they gestured at the urns in her direction. She held back a sneeze and then stopped breathing altogether when they paused.

“Did you just hear something?” the younger of the two men asked.

“No. These chambers will make you crazy if you allow your imagination free rein. There are echoes from the stable above us and the grain in the bins will shift suddenly. Just ignore it. There’s no one else here,” replied the elder man.

As the men were silent again and then left taking the torch with them. She waited in the dark as long as she could.  She could hear water dripping and she heard the echoes of the hooves of the animals above. Then she started to feel for the door she had glimpsed on the opposite end of the room. She found the handle and slowly opened the door a crack  – Light! She decided to go through and soon found herself at the foot of a ladder leading to an opening in the ceiling. As she climbed she realized she was climbing into daylight although still inside a building of some sort. She poked her head through the aperture and looked around – seeing only the animals she finished her climb and looked around the barn as she straightened out her clothing and dusted herself off. Then as casually as she could she walked out the door of the barn and into the street. Now that she knew where the tunnels led, she could come back another time and explore the contents.

When she was a block away from the barn she heard the cries and turned with the crowd to face the library. Fire! The library was on fire! People were running from the building screaming. As the realization came to her, she turned and headed for home. She would never see the manuscript now, so she resolved to recreate as much of it as she could from memory.

Many years later as she lay dying she passed what she had recorded to her daughter with the words, “Never grow too old for adventure.”

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With thanks for the story prompt to The Speculative Fiction Muse http://www.katfeete.net/writing/specfic.php

And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.

What do you think? Did I honor the spirit or the letter of the writing prompt? Enter your thoughts in comments below.

Random Access Memory

The storage facility now rivals the Smithsonian for content and size, although it was once a lot smaller.  The original caretaker was youthful and spry, retrieving facts and needed data seemingly instantaneously.  Things have changed…

There is an old man with a walker who wanders the aisles of the Smithsonian-sized warehouse retrieving facts for me. Everything I’ve ever known is in the warehouse. Everything. And the old man moves up and down the aisles pulling random files, peeking at their contents and shoving them back onto a shelf in another place. Sometimes he carries the files around for awhile before stuffing them into a stack on the other side of the building. His walker has those yellow tennis balls on the back two legs and a handmade bag with his name stenciled awkwardly on the front by one of the residents at the nursing home on craft day and hot-glued hook and loop tape to hold it on the front bar of his walker.

He wears a hearing aid with the volume turned down so he doesn’t accurately hear the requests that come in over the loudspeaker. If the overhead asks for “sneakers” he might hear “squeakers” or “peekers” and he’s off down another aisle, pulling files reciting a portion of the contents out loud and moving on.

In the bag on the front of his walker are objects that he has found as he has traversed the warehouse over the years. There is a crystal that used to hang from the rearview mirror of a 1993 Ford Escort 5-speed manual Sports Edition. There is a button from a sweater (might have been his sweater). He won’t give up his treasures and he rarely shows them to me.

The warehouse gets larger every year and he can no longer keep up, although he keeps trying. Pulling the files he thinks I need and never quite finding what I’m seeking until hours later – often in the early hours of the morning or when I’m taking a shower. He works best when I am not under pressure because he can’t stand stress. And since the files are not ordered chronologically or alphabetically or according to any known method of _____ (insert word which he won’t tell me at the moment meaning “sortable” and “orderly”), he works best by wandering around and pulling out whatever intrigues him.

The newer items are stacked in baskets near the front door and every once in awhile he goes up and gets a few items, takes them back into the stacks and shoves them into shelves with a logic known only to him.

When I am actively trying to recall the name of the book that so piqued my interest 10 years ago we play charades and I start guessing “sounds like” “starts with” and tossing in movie titles or song lyrics that are somehow in the same file folder on a shelf he has just accessed. If I am lucky it will be the correct folder although I still have to guess the other objects in the folder before he gives me the information I want. I can’t fire him. He works very hard and he knows these stacks better than anyone else. You see, he is my data retrieval system – my random access memory.