Getting ready for 2019, I looked back and saw that I started this blog waaaay back in January 2011 – almost exactly 8 years ago. It was four years after my retail store closed (hence the name) and I was looking for things to keep me busy, other than my re-established gardening business, and allow me an outlet for my writing and photography. That sometimes feels like a lifetime ago.
I have seen many blogs come and go since then. Like life, peoples’ interests wax and wane. Peoples’ lives change. Different passions and distractions appear and often thwart the best of intentions.
I’ve not been on here very often in the last couple of years as I have found my concerns shifting. I’m still passionate about plants and gardening and love my gardens — that is, my own as well as those that I call “mine” but technically aren’t as they belong to my wonderful clients. Many of them have grown and changed over the years and it is such a pleasure working in them. And many of the people I have had the honour of working for have become great friends.
But I also have found myself thinking more about life – that is, what it is to live our life, what it means to have had a “good life.” And how to juggle living with waiting; waiting with living.
Ironic that I crave moments now and not things, this coming from an ex-retailer! Indeed, I have been shedding many of my possessions as I begin to realize that although they might be nice to look at, nice that they provide padding to the corners of the house, they are collecting dust and not doing anything other than weighing me down.
I now crave lightness.
My father is 100 years old and my mother is approaching 90. I will be 60 in 2019. As my parents struggle through the meanness that is old age, their mature children are left behind to negotiate their comfort and care.
They both struggle with memory. So moments disappear with the tick of the clock. They refuse to become memories. Perhaps that is why I am craving moments — while I know they will still warm me with memories.
Do you follow Jann Arden on Facebook? If you’ve ever experienced a family member who is suffering from debilitating dementia, then look her up. She writes, of course, in words like she does in song. She at once describes the sadness, loss, guilt, ugliness and reluctant acceptance that is the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. She is the daughter of a mother who let her in and they were good friends before this disease began to take her away. Truthfully and sadly, that has not been my experience.
If you’ve read my other entry here about my feelings toward my mother, you’ll know it has never been a close relationship. Now that I find myself being the “go-to” person for both my mother and father’s care, the clash of feelings is only getting louder and more pronounced. The expectation of attention, the weight of duty, the guilt that the tender feelings are not present. It’s all there. Laid bare when I think to place my hand on her shoulder to quell her shaking when she is scared and confused. When I realize that telling her about her condition is actually terrifying her, so I withhold and edit. The mental processing and the operating on dispassionate, automatic pilot. It is exhausting and it strips you bare. You need moments of relief to find yourself again. And to somehow forgive yourself.
When I say I have to leave to walk the dog, it is true, but it is also self-preservation. I need an outlet that gives me joy in this time of weightfulness.
I don’t know what the next few years will bring, but I fear it will be more of the same and I am terrified that the dreams I am chasing will go ‘poof’.
I continue to research “how long does someone with Alzheimer’s live?” and look at statistics. I tell myself I am a horrible person. Then I whisper to myself that I am not.
“Longevity is in your genes,” the ER nurse says to me today. I cringe. Please no. This is not life. This is not living. This is waiting. Everybody’s waiting. And the clock is ticking.