Posted by: Patrice Fitzgerald | February 4, 2009

Aging at Different Times

I didn’t really see my mother in old age.  She died suddenly, at 67, on the last day of 1994, and there it was.  She was gone.

A sudden loss like that is tough on the survivors, but no doubt easier on the individual.

My Dad gave us a course on aging — from his trip to the hospital shortly after his 87th birthday, coming back from the brink of death, to his final days, almost two years later.  He was at first bedridden, then in a wheelchair, then a walker, then using a cane, and then walking, slowly, on his own.  It was a wonder for the staff to behold — someone getting better, not worse! — and a tribute to his tough, healthy body, that he could rebound that way, with proper care and nourishment.  

Later, of course, there was the inevitable downward spiral, and then he left us, just shy of 89.  We had that extra time with him, during which we were conscious of the precious hours together, for which I was grateful.  I like to think he was, too, but I’m not sure.

I used to wish I could know what it was like for him inside there.  He went through so many different stages, from sharp and practically his old self, to sounding like King Lear wandering in the storm.  Was he uncomfortable?  Sometimes.  Frustrated? I’m sure.  Resigned, at peace, angry, impatient, wise, crotchety, ready and then some to leave this world?

I don’t know.  I’ll never know.

Someday I’ll be in my 80’s (goddess willing) and I will think of Dad.  I think of him now, hobbled as I am with this stiff and sore knee, remembering how he couldn’t walk at times.  I couldn’t really share that with him; he with whom I had shared so much.  We all have different times when we are connected — I think my older brother was most intensely connected with Dad at the end of his life, and found it emotionally wrenching.  I had separated a bit more.  Dad’s death, while difficult for me, represents an ending which had to be, and which I think Dad was eager for.  I think it’s harder for my brother. 

So when I get there, near the end, assuming I have the brain cells left to remember, I will think of Dad.  Perhaps then I will have some understanding, finally, of what it must have been like for him.

Not so, Mom.  She left us suddenly, and it was too soon.

Miss you, Mom.  Miss you, Dad.

See you somewhere, someday?



  1. aw, im sure of it. hope your knee is improving.. knees are so painful!! bach flower rescue remedy – cream or essence – is good for healing 🙂

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