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Life Arts

End of the Line on Life's "Womb to Tomb" Journey

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What will happen to the old old?--my mother questioned in 1977. It was the last time I saw her alive. During a visit to the old home place before leaving Chicago for early retirement in Tennessee neither of us seemed ready to hang it up. She was not thinking of herself but of my father's sister in Kansas who was 90 and reputed to be senile. And then there was Katie, a neighbor friend older than mother, who was "getting up there." Only one year later we flew to Wyoming to pay final respects to a woman who lived more than sixty years on a homestead which demanded hard work and starch in the spine. Katie walked in to visit Mother one last time.

I'm now older than Mother was when she had her fatal stroke. The whole family has a history of heart problems and I sit here thankful that modern medical care and genetic longevity keeps me in my own apartment, hampered by a list of complaints and fortified by modern medicines. My immediate goal is to follow the rules of good health in order to remain in a building which requires unassisted living. When a new peculiarity surfaced this summer, I wondered if the old ticker would force my hand. So far, so good.

As I've heard others say often, it's not the fear of death which grates. Rather it's the possibility of becoming helpless and hurting before the end comes. It's called Geriatrics (and gerontology for social questions). Please let the doctors help but not decide what the next steps are. They advise. If we stay mentally alert we will know how to take their advice.

Living in a building with roughly another hundred souls who are somewhat in my shape, I prefer to think generically rather than personally. Two doors from me is a lady who drives up to see her daughter. She celebrated her 90th in 2007. We both attend Reminiscing Writers Workshop. She is great at crafts and delights in reading. A couple of times a year her sister, slightly younger, comes in from Maryland and joins us in the Writers group. I've lived here more than 10 years and learned early on not to complain about little aches, yet be willing to share major health changes so those around me can respond accordingly. And most of all, I continue to have my younger friends who listen when I tell them what I can and cannot do at a particular time. (Just to prepare them for when I become old-old, I believe.)

My cardiologist told me about his father who lived to be 93. He needed a wheel chair but turned down a motorized chair, because he said it was good to have the basic model where a person could walk behind it and take an occasional walk. It's so good to have a physician who treats me like a human being, never laying down a list of do's and don'ts. He asks me sensible questions about my activities and I can discuss with him anything which is on my mind.

During the summer of the Baucus/Grassley tango I had a lot to do at OpEdNews. And that was a blessing. I could get my breath better when I sat straight up in my posture chair with something to occupy my mind. From the experience of studying the medical insurance bill, which still needs resolution, I learned something important. Only the person inside the body can really determine how to live a life. On occasion that requires professional opinions. It's refreshing to understand that I am in charge of my body and I want to keep it that way. From the standpoint of society's future it is important to see that children are taught how to respect that wonderful gift they inherited.


Now, it's time to consider how children learn practical lessons for life. Education is the premier event in the life of us all. Perhaps that is the reason I feel close to the very young, the older I get.

 

Margaret Bassett passed away August 21, 2011. She was a treasured member of the Opednews.com editorial team for four years.

Margaret Bassett--OEN editor--is an 89-year old, currently living in senior housing, with a lifelong interest in political philosophy. Bachelors from State University of Iowa (1944) and Masters from Roosevelt University (1975) help to unravel important requirements for modern communication. Early introduction to computer science (1966) trumps them. It's payback time. She's been "entitled" so long she hopes to find some good coming off the keyboard into the lives of those who come after her.

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It sure sounds like you've managed to stay sharp a... by Dick Thomson on Sunday, Dec 27, 2009 at 7:55:46 AM
To admire individuality is negated by too much soc... by Margaret Bassett on Sunday, Dec 27, 2009 at 8:52:18 AM
Thanks, Margaret! My favorite line: "It's refreshi... by Cathie Bird on Sunday, Dec 27, 2009 at 11:38:41 AM
Maybe it's in East Tennessee air which makes us so... by Margaret Bassett on Sunday, Dec 27, 2009 at 12:17:27 PM
The older generation is likeour telescope into the... by Peter Duveen on Sunday, Dec 27, 2009 at 11:50:50 PM
was "frail." She helped her friend hang wallpaper,... by Margaret Bassett on Monday, Dec 28, 2009 at 6:03:06 AM