I don’t think much about the aged, my fears about growing old, or the possibility of my own mother becoming a dazed, afghan-swaddled elder in an assisted living facility. I know these thoughts preoccupy some, but I either don’t allow myself to obsess about the long-term or I am frightfully optimistic about the health my family and I will enjoy as we grow old.
I haven’t spoken to my Nana in two years. The last phone conversation, she confessed that she cried the whole day when she did not feel well enough to come to our wedding. I was not bitter, I expected that she would not feel well enough. She was eighty-nine years-old at the time. It was a tall order.
I typically imagine that I will leave this life before John. I imagine my death will be swift, freakishly swift. I imagine that I may even see my quickly waning life flash before me and think, “But I just bought new moisturizer! On sale! Wait! I can’t die yet!”
My sister and brother have spoken to my Nana often over the past two years. My brother visits her and even looks forward to the prospect that she will come to live at the nursing home where he works. My sister has had long visits with Nana, and can quote back to you all of the hilarious sound-bytes she downloads from their chats.
Last night, John was tucking me in (he has a cold and is sleeping downstairs) and a sudden rush of fear washed over me. What if this is the last time he tucks me in like this? What if one day, I go all “The Notebook” on him and he is resigned to tucking in his bride who thinks he is a nice male nurse? Every night that he gets paged to the hospital, I say a prayer that no tragedy will befall him on his midnight drive there and early morning drive home.
My Nana does not know her sons. My uncle Bob, her first son, visited her recently, and she told him, “I haven’t seen you since I moved to Cleveland!” I don’t know how she intuits to turn on a light when it is dark in her apartment, and that in order to do so, she must first flick the switch. If she doesn’t know her own sons, how does she know what a light switch is?
I spend a lot of my time letting John know that I can do it myself. I am a broken record of, “Ehhh, I don’t need HELP.” Someday, I may miss him. Someday, I may long to pull close to me the arms that I pushed away. Someday, I may not be able to help myself. Someday, I may not know what a light switch is.