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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Aging with the help of youth.


Recently, I read a story about a young child who was having recurring nightmares about a monster. It happened often  her parents thought it would be remedial to draw a picture of the beast haunting her sleep.  This is the result.

It struck me as an act of bravery, defiance.  I could almost picture the little girl, her face intense with concentration, steady hand defining arcs and lines, moving the shadowy and ill defined into her world, where it had to play by her rules, where she was in charge.

I have spent most of my life afraid of things. Spiders, snakes, bats, spiders that eat snakes and bats (why anyone would live in Australia is beyond my limited ability to understand) planes, boats, heights, I can’t remember the rest and can’t find the list right now.

But, the thing I have always feared the most is getting old. I have hidden behind things like “I don’t feel sixty,” (technically, I have six months until I pass that tombstone). I still hang onto relics of my youth, tie-die, big round eye glasses, hooded sweatshirts, Baja shirts, the Grateful Dead, Dylan, Credence Clearwater Revival. Man, I am old.

Recently, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my knee. You would have thought it was terminal. I spent a whole weekend in self obsessed misery. I was shopping for canes, walkers, wheel chairs, online of course. I had started writing my eulogy, I can’t trust that with anybody else. Nobody can tell better lies about me than me.

But, it wasn’t the end. It was only a beginning, my physical therapy is going well. My knee feels much better, and when the orthopedic doctor said we could talk about knee replacement in a couple of months and I said “or a couple of years.” And he said, “or a couple of years.”

So, I owe that little girl a lot, she faced her fears, and I hope she overcame them. But, she taught me to stand up to mine, at least the one I couldn’t avoid. I’m still not getting on a plane or boat and heading down under, but I am aging with a little more grace, possibly.