Lightning Strikes

Sometimes when you least expect it, a bolt of lightning strikes.  When it does you react quickly with a smile and a word, “hi” if you are meeting someone.   Once the greeting is over you know you need to smile and begin to understand why you felt an unwanted, shocking strike.  It is a time for you to cope regardless of what the moment brought to you.

Yesterday, we arranged to have lunch with our neighbor from where we previously lived.  We were neighbors for six years and the last time we saw them was a year ago in front of our house.   That day they each came over to bid us a pleasant good-bye.  We often chatted with them in our yard or their’s and rarely did we go into each other’s homes to have a  formal time with each other.  Even though we chatted under the mango trees or during a time when we helped each other we did get to know a fair amount about each other.

As I climbed out of the car my eye quickly stopped at the wife and then on to the husband followed by the strike of lightning.   During the next moment, I found it difficult to say “hi” and pull me together to act normal.  The husband‘s Parkinson’s worsened leaving his left-hand shake unmercifully.  His wife looked haggard and worn.  She appeared as though she was ten years older than she is.

Without too much delay she began to talk about herself and why her shabby appearance was due to her muddled mind.   We accompanied them as they walked into the house.    The husband still is of sound mind although his physical appearance showed that he had lost weight;  the weight that had been lost by an erratic diet.    later he mentioned that there wasn’t food in the house and that we needed to go out.  I felt bad and wanted to shop and make food for them. Yet he would never allow anyone to give them anything.  This is something I learned during our six years we were neighbors.

Over the next two hours, we listened as they each told us about her problems.  She was crestfallen and tired and conscious of what she felt.  She explained at lunch that the man across the table was not her husband, he was a replacement, one that she was not as comfortable as with her real husband.  He asked her for the keys she carried but she would not release them and we knew that she wouldn’t give them to him because she felt this new person might take the car or lock her out of the house.  She kept thinking her purse was missing and then back at the house she stopped us to look at the man in the tree.  Her purse was in her bedroom as it always is.  Back at their house after lunch, she said that there was a man in the tree.  There was no man.

As we drove away, we worried about both of them.  We tried to ask them for any information about  their son but didn’t get any.   The next day we located him and explained to him what we saw and understood.  We felt it was very important for him to go to them and see the sad state each of his parents was in.  At night, the wife gets very upset, goes to the front yard and screams for help for someone to call the police to protect her.  On the other hand, she has been a threat to her husband’s peace and he feels the same as her in calling the police.

Their son will be with them tonight and try to decide what must be done.  Unfortunately, both his parents need professional evaluations during a stay in a hospital.  There are many tales within the bolt of lightning and they must be sorted out by a professional.  I hope there peace comes to them and strength given to the son to make it happen for them. 

The Number 69

Sixty-nine arrived on the fifteenth of this month.
It will remain for another three hundred and sixty-four days.
It gave me an unwanted bolt of reality…one not to ignore.

As an adult, a birthday and another year passing was a usual happening.  I even enjoyed birthday presents!  Then, after the one major event which struck out at me seemed to change my world.  I began to feel I was on some precipice scratching for a twig that would steady a slippery slide.  The twig’s hold worked for many months.  Then to my exasperation,  a collection of deleterious ills happened to me.  I thought I had let go of the twig and landed in a huge cup and saucer.  The cup and saucer sat  on a spinning circle that slowed only for a second.  As it slowed, another little lifetime ill had occurred .

I often think–

At fifteen you pine for freedom so that you can do as you wish.
At 20 life cannot hurt you when you meet it head on fearlessly.
At 40 your career blossoms and you smile and count your money!
When 50 rolls around they say you are over-the-hill!  Stupid–
And the next decade begins a slow spiral own to the number 69.
The future is something akin to a crap shoot….Some Win and Some Lose.

Maybe now it is the time for bit more thought:

  • Norman Cousins–
    The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.
  • Robert Frost–
    The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
  • Me–
    Sometimes to soak myself in my tears and fears, I find that even misery can bring strength back to the mind.
  • John Scalzi—
    The problem with aging is not that it’s one damn thing after another—it’s every damn thing, all at once, all the time.
  • Linda Robinson—
    I have to start loving what comes next and stop hating I won’t be a part of it.
  • My Mother—
    To look backwards  does no good, look forward to Tomorrow and what it may bring.

I Wonder: Am I There??

My original blog at WordPress, which I still leave intact, focused on a time in one’s life that is considered the twilight of life and how that period can affect you.  When thinking about a name for my blog I chose “Within Crepusculum” which in meaning comes from the ancient word “Crepusculum” for a place or feeling that is no longer clear in vision or thought.  The contemporary equivalent, crepuscular, used mostly as an adjective, carries almost the same meaning, yet with it you identify a particular thing with a noun of choice.

Crepusculum became an actual place to me, where one day, when I have experiences particular life changes that leaves me bound to being assisted to continue living, or less traumatic, a place just beyond a threshold, where I will only pass through when I know my physical or mental condition has changed enough and that I believe I may never be able to recoup from the change.  After entering, this place, within my own crepusculum, I begin a journey of unknown length, nor do I know what I will meet along the path that will lead to the part of life that I am not capable of caring for myself.

A definite age does not mean you enter.  Circumstance does matter.  Mental worry and concerns are paramount.  They will determine if you will move beyond the threshold.

Up until this last year I never experienced any thing that made me feel I could change and not return to how I felt on any of my days.  This year, from the time I turned 64, I began collecting new experiences that signaled a difference in me.  First, my sinus’ became much more bothersome and during this time I started to have fevers.  Rounds of treatment never stopped the fever.  It came and went as it pleased even though the sinus’ were fine.  No other cause could be found for the fever and slowly I began to identify with FUO, (fever of unknown origin) a condition quite difficult to treat.  When the fever came it was always accompanied by my being lethargic and miserable.  So often I sat staring into space.  When the fever went down I returned to reality.  Then one day I realized it was gone for two months.  Then two months more of freedom passed and now they are back.

Next,   I experienced a terrible hernia and while waiting for its repair, the pain began to intensify.  I spent hours lying on the floor to relieve the pain.  It had always worked.  This time it did nothing and finally I gave up and went to the emergency room.  I was surprised to hear that it wasn’t my hernia, but that I had an appendicitis.

Finally, the hernia surgery was scheduled and afterward I was limited in what I could do for over 6 weeks.  Even after that time I often had bouts in discomfort and was told this would go on for six months.

The fever, two operations and recuperation’s left me feeling that to regain my strength and fortitude  would not be easy or at times I felt I could never return to how I was.

Slowly, I found I could do more each day.  Eventually I could function physically as I wanted.  I could return to my large garden and lawn to work it as I used to and inside the house any new project was possible.  I was thankful that I had uselessly worried.

Then, three and a half weeks ago, following a morning of trimming tree branches, I fell by catching my foot in a large branch and tumbled forward with such surprising force, that when I landed with my chest on a brick I looked up to see the cement walkway just inches before me.  Without thinking I got up, started to move the branches, saw the brick lying there on the dirt and continued to clean up the area.  Within a very, very short time some pain began.  Regardless, I put all the garden equipment away, then took a shower followed by pacing around not wanting to accept the pain was getting worse.  Soon, I gave up and thought I had better call my spouse home to take me to the emergency room.  I had fractured two ribs, twisted my hip and had an abundance of soft tissue, muscle damage.

After returning from the hospital, the pain intensified and my ability to move easily deteriorated.  The next three days the pain was gruesome and I became helpless when I tried to get in or out of the bed.  To be helped out of the bed worked, but the pain stabbed me at such a degree that I actually cried out for mercy and soon became paranoid in selecting a way to sit, rest, how to stand and walk that many times I felt the path now taken was one that would never change its downward direction.

It is still difficult for me to move, to find a way to sleep, to have the stamina to keep going because if I do more the pain returns to haunt me.  I realize I will reach a day it leaves, but I question that in the aftermath, will I once again return to my normal strength and fortitude.

Too much, To much for my sixty-fourth year.  In a couple of months I will be sixty-five.  Let medicare come if it must or let the Scooter Store continue to send me brochures and let my sideburns show my only touch of grey at the very bottom, but PLEASE, PLEASE let the happenings I have experienced this past year not continue with new ones when I turn sixty-five.  If they do,  I will not be able to stop questioning if I have crossed my threshold.

Age, a state of mind or body??

Sitting on my patio, looking out over the pool and all the wonderful, Florida vegetation in my half acre of garden, I am prompted to ask what my aging is all about.  Is it in my head, or is there something definitely happening physically to me.  I thnk for some it just is a state of mind they get into, whereas, I have never thought about my age and even now have to tell myself that I am sixty-two.  Then I must remind myself that I am and make a couple physical comparisons to make me remember how old I am.

Twenty years ago I would not have sat in this chair with a pinched nerve, overweight and have my thumbs tingle as I type.  Yep, there are changes I can’t deny in my body.  I can take care of most of what is wrong with me if I lose weight.  So, since I hate exercise and will not go to a gym, but love gardening I do the work here in the garden.  I have grown to particular about how the tree or bush is planted to have someone else do it for me.  What I get in return for doing this is a beautiful garden, done the way I want it, a feeling of tiredness in the bones and especially a pain in my back for shoveling and moving wheel barrow after wheel barrow full of topsoil and then mulch.

I also ask if it is worth the aggravation of pain and exhaustion, when I could hire a gardener.  My  neighbor thinks we must be too poor to hire one and then questions why we live where we do.  Well, it is worth the pain and the exhaustion because as I sit here  looking out over what I did this past week I can nod and know it looks good, it looks the way I want it too and tomorrow it still looks good because of the way I did it.

I wonder why I think this way and I know it is because I do not dwell on age, nor hold onto specific actions that may give me a few aches and pains.  It is all part of life.  Just because I have a pain in my back doesn’t mean to stop and say:  “To much doing for a person your age.”  Particularly I will not say that when I smile and see I have lost seven pounds.  Tomorrow will continue on just as today and yesterday.

Probably there will be a day when I have to face the facts and know it isn’t safe to continue on my course I set for myself and agree it is time to sit in a chair, but I will tell you that day is a long way from now.  In the interim, I cannot deny that I may be very close to the doors of my Crepusculum, but being within Crepusculum does not mean you stop, hang up your towel and sit in the rocking chair.  Crepusculum is and must be a time of thinking, of planning, of enjoying, of doing and always a time of self fulfillment.  It is a time of my life that I don’t mind if I enter.

If aging is anything for me it is a state of the body, but with diligence and determination it can be controlled for a very long time.


Through the Gray There Will Be!!

This post is warmly dedicated to

Shadowlands and Tauna

to each I send much love………

In my own way I am very determined to make my new path so that when I step within my Crepusculum,  I will be able to breathe a sigh and say, “You made It–You made it Your Way!!!”  And when I say that. I want to be able to jump, to wave, to sing, to laugh joyously, to know that at that moment I am happy and that I will continue to make my days happy.  Nor will I feel sad that I have entered that era of my life.  It should and will be a time to rejoice that I am that mature, that I have worked to be happy and that I am ready for what tomorrow brings me.

In this world of gray that I live, the one that will continue to jettison me to my renaissance, is a world that I have to remember there will  only be a few people close to me that say “Its good, you will make it, you follow your heart and do it your way!”  That’s the key of the gray because so many good-willed people forget that each of us, no matter how much we are nudged, can only do it ourselves.  The gray in life isn’t just the overcast sky caused by a dense cloud cover, it is much closer, it is the part of me that is overwhelmed, filled with thoughts and emotions and so thick that it is impossible to sort, sift or dispense with easily.  Then that gray begins to grow even more thickly simply because there is a lack of seratonin in me.  So many things causes the gray.  Each human’s gray is filled with different reasons, although some can be similar.  My gray, for instance,  is filled with ongoing grief, guilt, ambivalence in relationships, some friendships and not being industrious to set a groundwork for a personal legacy.

Months have passed and the majority around me urge me to just get on with it.  Its time you pulled yourself out from where you are, the time has been too long, they say.  Then there are others who wish never to acknowledge that there ever was something that allowed me to slide, slide pitifully into the densest of grays.  Its quite an experience if you have never been there.  You don’t think to well, you don’t care to write, thank god because the words just aren’t in the head.  Most days and hours you are not attentive.  You don’t care about anything even yourself.  Then  sleeplessness walks in, non-stop eating makes itself at home in your head and further withdrawal from sharing continues until it is nearly extinguished.  Yet for me, there remained two remarkable people who never expected more from me than what I was for any particular day.  Never did they coax me to change, yet their contact with me was always supportive in a wonderfully quiet way.  These two rare people know me the best of anyone because I tell them everything and they listen and   let me know they are always there.

Well, now there is a little break in that gray that wraps around me.  Yes I decided that I needed to begin living, but that does not mean that I give up and accept all the reasons for the gray.  I think perhaps what is unique that this little beginning of Renaissance in  life allows me to continue to sift and sort, heal and pamper all the emotions in the gray.  In fact, it gives me new tools to see and to evaluate and to come to terms with myself.  My two special people have unknowingly given me more help than anyone.  It is destiny I believe that brought each of us together.  One is like a sister to me who knows me so well and can tell when something is wrong, who has gone through more grief and pain than anyone should have  to bear and yet has always given  me continual support and prayer.  The other person, simply put has become my Sage, with enough wisdom to set confusing matters straight in a quiet way, yet also is plagued by many physical problems.  I think that is why they both are so special and their words are taken so easily to heart.  Each has their own pain in living but each have always been willing to give support by sharing their own adversity.

And, during this whole time of nothing, of pushing gray to one side only to find it coming back again, I continually thought what my Mother believed in so strongly and that was of Tomorrow.  Now I do think of tomorrow and also have noticed that when I see someone not smiling or not being pleasant I often tell them that smiling makes a big difference in life, smiling is like a ray of golden sun and if you share that ray of sun with others you will find you receive much warmth and understanding in return.

As I write I smile because during all this gray I have begun to grow from within.  There is much more compassion, much more logic than before and possibly if I look hard enough I will see that wisdom has rested with the walls of my heart.  Yes, there still is so much more that I need to do, to work on.  But only in the last few days has this begun to happen.  I know there will be more that I will be able to understand and a fresh willingness to want to explore life.  It will all come in good time and only when I am ready.  But for now I am pleased that I have my little beginning to a Renaissance at it will lead me to the next stage where I can grow just a little more.

To those who are uncomfortable with me and my gray I promise to be more cautious with whom I share my life.   Some people just can’t handle my past and current emotional state.  That’s fine with me–because I do believe that through the gray there will be life.

Thinking as the Darkness Wraps Around Me

I am sitting in the dark as it wraps around me, except  I am not at home, I am in our apartment in Phoenix.  I can turn on the lights, but my old habit of writing in the dark lets me think better and as I sit here I can put on earphones and listen to my music and feel comfortable.  I think that everyone has their unique  place they go to that triggers thought.    Each morning I arise very early, before the thought of dawn and I go to the computer to write and catch up on my emails.

Habits, such as my writing and thinking in the dark, are a part of everyone’s life–our lives are based on inner impulsion’s drawing us to do particular acts in unique ways.   Think about what your life would be like if you didn’t have that private place to go to, or if that private place wasn’t respected.  Fortunately, since I was a child, I have been able to enjoy an exclusive area without worry of intrusion.

Today as I write, “Old Folks” plays from the computer’s  media player.  The song is from the original, cast recording of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well.  I have listened to this album since the mid 1970’s and never tire of it.  I have the songs memorized and even when I didn’t play them for years, the lyrics remained with me.  I enjoyed this collection of his songs because each are written with such poignant meaning.  They are a great catalyst for forming thought.

Even before I ever thought about making a piece of art, going to art school, becoming engaged in the process of growing older, or planning the journey to my Crepusculum, the song, “Old Folks” triggered strange feelings in me and for years the story haunted me.  It reinforced all of the kindness my parents taught me to show to someone who is elderly.   It also, in the seventies, opened a door to some other person’s view of the elderly that was not  sweet.  The lyrics paint a far different picture of so many of our elderly today.

Brel’s old people do not talk too much.  They have no illusions and their homes smell of time and old photographs.  Their eye’s are always clouded by a tear and for most of their day they sit in a chair or remain in bed watching the old silver clock on the shelf that waits for that moment that will be their time to leave.  Beautifully sung, you here that the old people only going  out in the day arm and arm and if they do leave their house they are out to see someone who is older than they are.  They go to say their good byes and they are aware that their world gets smaller each day.  The song ends reminding the listener that the old people always go back to their chair and wait, as the silver clock ticks away the time until their own departure.

If you do not know “Old Folks” please click the audio button and listen to it–you won’t forget it!!

https://suntithenai.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/old-folks1.jpg

Even though, occasionally now and particularly in the past, many people believed in  societal structure that said the elderly were to be seen as non-productive.  Once, in the seventies, I visited  family living at Century Village in Florida.  Then, I accepted what I saw–it was in line with societies beliefs  of the elderly.

Century Village is large with many apartment buildings that you need to drive the distance between.  Along the road way were benches for residends to sit as they waited for buses to take them to a different buiding.  The day we arrived the benches were filled by one or two couples, usually not marrie, usually two women together.  Even though it was warm everyone had on sweaters, every one clutched a hankie, no one talked, and all had silver, blue or pink hair.  After we arrived at our destination building the scene was duplicated again near the buildings.  When someone spoke to you it was often to tell you of how terrible it was to watch their friends die.  I have never been so glad to leave a place because during the time there all I could see were crocheted doilies under silver clocks while the residents sat in their chairs–day after day, not talking, just waiting—waiting for their day.

Now that I am the age that I am, hearing the lyrics reminds me of  all of the people and family members that reached far into their eighties and never lived the life described by Jacques Brel.  My Mother was very active until she was 84 and then continued with some limitations after her stroke until her last year.  At eighty she traveled to Italy to visit her parents homes.  She loved life and never looked toward the silver clock.  During the last two weeks of her life, after spending too long a time not being able to function,  she shared with my sister her anger that life had been taken from her and questioned how her sisters would still live.  If changes could have been made to her health she would have been utterly happy to be able to enjoy many more day.  That was not the case and then, and only then she acquiesced to her passing.  Momma was like so many people that believed there is no reason to stop just because you were of a particular age.  On Eon’s one of the members of the writer’s group I manage writes stories of her Mother that has as much zest for life as my Mother did.

Today, fortunately there are more people that understand that seniors are much better off keeping active.  Fortunately, we have come a long way since 1970, and for the most part the elderly enjoy their lives.

I began this post referring to habits, those patterns of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.  It also refers to the established disposition of the mind or character.  Habits can be beneficial and detrimental and if you think about it, the way we viewed the elderly before and the way that many are now thinking about it is the first links that will break the older stigma that people of elder years live in homes smelling of time and sit in a chair waiting for time to pass for them to die.  Please join me in supporting the  idea that seniors and the eldest of seniors have much that they can still give society and that the busier they are the better they will be.!!  This is a good thing to believe, particularly if you are near my age!!  If you are,  we need to be as active entering our twilight years as we can be and remain active just as long as we can.  If we don’t, just think, they will want us to watch a silver clock…….

I am so glad I do not own a silver clock!

What If?

The morning opened somewhat like the evening before, cold, gray, rain making me feel unusually, uneasy, and unless the dawn breaks out into bright, golden rays of light, it will be difficult to shake the sensation I have. For now, as the raindrops hit the window and the gray holds strong, I will sit pensively.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the darkness turns to dawn. I can see the bricks that form the patio floor glisten from the rain and the distant houses begin to show on the horizon. My thoughts are as gray as it is outside. In addition, some of the concerns are about me; the grayness allows me to see how unsettled I feel about tomorrow. Question after question hit me swiftly, like the darts puncturing the surface of the board, each demanding solutions for the present and my future. I do not have those answers and I may never have them.

My questions, my thoughts, the concerns are dominated by my own aging and have developed by being the primary caretaker for my Mother and managing my Father’s care for the last year prior to his death. I watched and I watch as they each became more dependent for life care. Each was active until their early eighties and then their abilities changed drastically. My father never addressed how he felt about having two hired people living in his house and caring for, although, he did not say a lot the day I asked him for his car keys. My mother, on the other hand, is quite aware of the changes that she has experienced. She loves life and holds on to it with a will that few could equal, Even though her inner strength is strong, the reality of her life is now overwhelming to her. At times, when we talk I know she is struggling to keep her will. However, at the end of the day, before the exhaustion sets in, before their bodies are free to rejuvenate one day he knew and Momma knows that they are and were not alone. I am always there, my sister is not far away and M. has been constant in his vigil

And so,

I place myself in their shoes and I become very frightened. I shout to my self, very loudly and very clearly, that it will not be the same for me. I will be alone, I will not have a trusted family member next to me, and I will not have “trust”.

I have never liked being alone–

Suddenly the “what If’s” set in.

  • What if I have a debilitating stroke—
  • What if I have my father’s heart? By-pass surgery in my 80’s alone–
  • What if I am incontinent–
  • What if I cannot speak well or have a tracheotomy–
  • What if I cannot see well–
  • What if my memory becomes inconsistent–
  • What if death does not come speedily
  • What if
  • What
  • If

Yes, what if, what if you feel distrust,

What if you are alone?

Moreover, what if no one hears your plea?

What if?