Friday, 22 January 2010

All the things that happen in a week

Our friend BB died from her cancer a week ago, and her funeral was yesterday. It has been a sad week. She and Dr P had known each other for many years and were very fond of each other - and I loved her too, notwithstanding knowing her for a shorter period. She was a warm and affectionate person, with a feisty and generous spirit, a good sense of fun, who had a deep and active commitment to civil and human rights and freedoms. She lived a good and worthwhile life, and she made the world a better place. We mourn her with tears, and remember her with joy.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the death of my friend J, who, along with his wife M, I loved so dearly over the many years of our friendship. M has been brave and wonderful all this first difficult year. We have been in constant contact, and will talk tomorrow.

Being married to a much older man, whose friends are of his vintage - and it was a good vintage too - and having lost two of my dearest friends in the last two years, my thoughts do turn to dying and death. They turn to the aged, too, and the quality of life when physical feebleness overcomes the spirit, and when mental powers fail, such as the short term memory, as with Dr P, or dementia, as with my older sister. Possibly because I have had several life threatening illnesses, and because I value honesty and realism over pretence and avoidance, I do not shrink from death and dying. I believe I can be both lovingly and practically helpful. Not in all cases, of course, but I am not afraid of the situation.

What I find more difficult is the frailty and feebleness, the deafness, and the forgetfulness, and , in Dr P's case, the inability to consider other people, and to be unselfish. And I wonder whether I can cope. Will I have the necessary strength, goodness and patience? I often doubt it. Will I have to abandon my interests and activities? Will I survive? What will my own old age be like?

None of us knows the answers to these questions, but they thrust themselves at me, each and every day and night.


molly said...

It is difficult to predict how we ourselves will cope with old age. I know several folks in their eighties. Some become selfish and think only of themselves, while others seem able to still be outgoing and show consideration for others. I want to be like the latter. I also like to be helpful, but when dealing with the former it takes a lot of effort and lip biting and teeth gritting!

VioletSky said...

I had to deal with both the surly (father)and the unselfish (mother) with each of my parents. I often wonder which one I will take after. Though both were stubborn as all get out, so I'm sure that will be part of my old age!

word verification is 'renew'
so maybe there is hope?

Meggie said...

This post resonates so loudly with me. Having watched my Mother in law fade with Alzheimers, I know I could not deal with it. I truly dread the thought I might get it. I could not bear to think of inflicting anyone with the burden, least of all my children.
I did not know my father in his older age, but my mother kept her dignity and her mind to the end.

Pam said...

Oh Persiflage, what a sad post. I do sympathise with how you feel.

I have on my desk a little quote I found somewhere and wrote out - I wish I could remember who said it somebody old, obviously - but I need to remember it when I feel sorry for my empty-nest state:"I've had such a wonderful life but you can't expect to escape without a little pain". I know it's a bit trite but it's true too.

But a cat would help... No chance of getting one?