Sunday, September 6, 2009

Aging & Shoe Laces

Aging can be a wonderful thing.
As an adult, you get to stay up as late as you want. You get to eat popcorn and chocolate chip cookies for dinner. You get to keep your bedroom as messy as possible without lectures or guilt trips from your Mother. Best of all, you get to pick and choose who you want in your life.
And if you’re really lucky, age allows you to slowly (I stress slowly here) figure out who you are, who you were and who you don’t want to be.

Every other weekend, I spend a day with my 90 year old Grandmother, affectionately known as ‘Nanny’.
Nanny now lives with my parents because she can no longer take care of herself, well. Physically, she’s fine—strong as an ox. Mentally, well, that’s another story.
I’ve written about her many, many times but have not shared much on this blog as my feelings about her current situation are convoluted. I sometimes feel like I’m in denial while other times I seem to come to terms with the fact that the woman I knew, the woman who helped raise me is not the same person.

When I was a child, she doted on me endlessly and I loved it because doting was something my Mother knew nothing about.
One of my fondest memories of her was all the time she took to show me how to tie my shoe laces. She was always so patient and would allow me to try and try again until I got it right, even when she was in a hurry. I can still picture her standing in the doorway, looking at her watch as I struggled with my Everest.
I hadn’t thought about that in ages. My recent memories of her are starting to overshadow the old, more joyful ones.
Time can be cruel.
However, the other day, as I helped her with her socks and shoes, I was transported back to that doorway in my childhood.
There she was, sitting in her favourite chair, sticking out her foot the same way I used to do it by holding on to the back of my knee. It was a bizarre moment. And to be honest, I cried on my way home that day because of it.
Having to see my Grandmother this way is not all bad, though. For good can come out of bad, time and time again.

My original Grandmother allowed me to see that with a little patience and perseverance, anything is possible.

My current Grandmother is forcing me to see that I don’t ever want to lose my memories. I don’t ever want to lose my essence and I certainly don’t ever want to lose the ability to put my shoes on—by myself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post! Aging is a scary concept. I work in geriatric home health and deal with the issue of aging on a daily basis. On a good day, I get to hear the wisdom of the ages which I love. On a bad day, I too see the fragile being I hope never to become. On a personal level, my grandmother is also declining in physical and mental ability. She lives in Jamaica and I was glad I got to visit her in April. The visit was bitter sweet, as she too is not the person I remember. This keeps me from calling as often as I should but your post reminded me how precious these moments can be and I'm going to get a calling card ASAP. Thank you.