ANOTHER AGING VENTILATION

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ANOTHER AGING VENTILATION

Elizabeth Willis Barrett…………..March 2014

 

The other day Brad and I drove separate cars to a detailing shop so Brad could leave his car there to be detailed.  There was a slight problem owing to the fact that  Brad hadn’t brought the shop’s address or phone number and thought he could just find it.  But he couldn’t.  It was sort of my fault that he couldn’t find it because there was heavy traffic on Baseline.  Because Brad knows how much I hate to turn left when there is even a moderate amount of cars whizzing and honking by, he turned right which was very thoughtful since I was following him.  But that put him in unfamiliar territory as far as the detail shop was concerned and he couldn’t remember if it was closer to Broadway or Southern.  The lack of knowing made for several turns and backtracking.

Finally I called him (thank goodness, he remembered to bring his phone which isn’t always a given) and said I would just park somewhere and he could tell me where to find him after he knew exactly where he was going.  Trying to follow him in tight circles behind the wheel of a potential weapon didn’t seem like a very safe thing in my opinion.

“No,”  he said.  “It’s here somewhere.”

Finally he did find the detailer after stopping a couple of times and squinting at the road sign to see if it said Broadway or Southern.  And, by the way, which comes first—Broadway or Southern?  It’s funny how things like that escape your mind at times.  Again, I will take some of the responsibility for getting lost.  No, I will take a whole bunch of the responsibility, since my left turn phobia made him come at the shop from a different angle.  What’s a little more guilt added to the great weight of guilt that I insist on carrying everywhere I go?

When he finally left his car with the attendant and got into mine he was very frustrated.

“I don’t want to be old,” he said.  “That’s what an old man does: wanders aimlessly and slowly and shuffle-y looking for things.   I don’t want to act like that.”

“Neither do I,”  I said as I pawed through my purse, forgetting what the object of the pawing was.

“See,” he said.  “That’s what your mother used to do.”

“What?” I asked.

“The rummaging.  The rifling through your purse. That’s what your mother used to do.”

He was right.  I felt just like her as I pawed with seemingly no purpose.  A definite sign of aging.  What a pair we are, Brad and me!

“Aaaaaaaaaaa!

The drawbacks of the aging process  hit me once in a while and I just have to vent.  I feel like Diane Keaton’s character in the movie And So It Goes when she splays her arms and says with an emphatic grimace, “I’m sixty-five.  Uuuuuuuuuu!!!”

I do not like growing old.  There must be a better way.  I know, I should be glad to still be here on this fabulous earth and I should enjoy every minute and relish the now.  But aging is a big deterrent to relishing the now.

The other day I found a hair on my chin.  A dark hair!!! What was that doing there?  I have always been blond.  How long had it been growing?  How many people saw it before I finally did?  What would make a hair grow on a chin that has never had a hair before?  Weird things happen as you grow old.

Another sign of my own aging happened when I bent over to pick up something off the carpet.  I couldn’t tell what it was and I turned it over and over until I felt my mother slipping into me again.  She had done that action often in her old age, turning something over and over in slow motion trying to determine what treasure was indicated by a scrap found on the carpet.

Slow motion is becoming more of a companion to me and not an amiable one.  What happened to my drive, my focus, my hitting the deck running?  And weight that used to roll off without much trouble has become attached to my middle and it seems to delight in giving me a backache.  Arthritic thumbs add to my annoyance.

If age was honored and respected and not snickered at, it would help a little.  This might be a good time to move to old-people-loving China.  Hopefully, Brad will go with me.

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PRE-ALZ

alzheimers-April-2011

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

 My daughter Kelli is reading the book The House at Tyneford.  That title sounded familiar to me and I assumed that I had started to listen to it and then didn’t like it well enough to finish it.  Thinking I would give it another try, I downloaded it onto my phone from Overdrive.  I was pleased with the skill of the writer and wondered why I had discarded it the first time.  When I had listened to the book for a while without any recognition whatsoever of the plot, the characters or the location, one incident was described: a manuscript in a viola.  Aha!  That sounded very familiar.  Since I list all the books I’ve listened to on my blog, I checked my old blog on Blogspot and saw that I had listed The House at Tyneford.  That meant I had already listened to it!  The whole of it!

So where was the story that had at one time been put into my brain?  It must have been buried so deeply in a brain fold that I couldn’t drag out any of it except for a few incidental points.  I had to re-listen to the whole book just to re-find out what happened to that viola manuscript.  It was very frustrating.  Partly because I should have been putting my time into a book I hadn’t already listened to.  But mostly because I couldn’t remember.  Really, where does stuff go when it enters your brain? And why are some people, like Brad for instance, able to pull out deeply filed information so easily?  And others, like me for instance, can’t even remember that we had filed the info at all? 

 As a child of parents whose minds couldn’t pull up much of anything in their old age, it causes great concern to me.  Have my synapses already started to deteriorate?  Is my brain lacking in healthy blood flow?    Are there tangles in my brain that need to be dissolved?  I’m considering taking part in a clinical research study that is investigating a medication that may be able to slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s.  I think I would be a good candidate. 

 Although, now that I have checked it out further, I see that if I became a participant of the study, I would need a care giver to accompany me throughout the process which lasts 14 to 22 months.  

 I think I’ll skip the study because I don’t think Brad would enjoy being my care giver yet.  Better save him for the final stages.

 

FIDGETING MY WAY THROUGH LIFE

 

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Elizabeth Willis Barrett

I am a fidgeter.  Sitting still isn’t imbedded in my makeup.  When the family is gathered in the chaotic family room to visit after dinner, I have to hold on to myself to keep from jumping up and grabbing a broom or a dishcloth or the bin for the child-scattered blocks.  I breathe in deeply, hoping that the air will moor me to the recliner and keep me from my manic disorder of constant busyness.

I heard once that fidgeters aren’t overweight because they burn calories in unnecessary movements.  That’s a comfort.  But I don’t know if it quite makes up for the offenses I incur by organizing all the medicine cupboard’s contents while talking to a brother-in-law or scrubbing the couch while having a heart to heart conversation with a daughter.

Besides alienating people, fidgeting makes everything take longer.  Take eating for example. I put the food on my plate. Arrange it.  Get up to grab a napkin.  Get up to get some water.  By the time I actually put the first bite in my mouth, some of the family have finished eating and are out jumping on the trampoline.

I fidget before I write.  I take the computer from its long-standing spot on the kitchen table, situate it on my lap, check Facebook, look up tidbits about Julia Child, look around my room where I am sitting in the most comfortable chair ever and decide to put a few papers away that have held a spot on my Dad’s old trunk for three weeks too long.

Then I have to fidget around my subject for a while, fingering the words in an uneven typing until the piece takes shape and I can run with it.

I often find myself–or more accurately, lose myself–rifling through my purse.  It reminds me of my mom who used to do a lot of rifling in her dementia.  Sometimes I forget what I’m searching for and am afraid I’m just doing it for movement.  Scary!

One of my cousins mentioned that he was concerned about another cousin.  She fidgets so much, he said, that sometimes she misses airline flights and important meetings.  Really? He almost made fidgeting sound like a precursor to Alzheimer’s and I definitely don’t need any more precursors to that disease.

A friend of mine can get right down to things without the incessant fidget.  She prides herself on her three-minute showers, for instance.  My showers take an un-record-breaking twenty minutes.  My mind has lots of fidgeting to do and the shower is a great place to think things over.  I would feel very cheated if I only had three minutes for a shower.

Many years ago, this same friend’s daughter was invited to my daughter’s swimming party.  On the morning of the party my friend made her daughter a new swimsuit–from scratch!  It took her a mere two hours.

If the thought of making my daughter a swimsuit ever got past the filters in my brain, it would have taken me a month to make most likely.  I would have had to check out all the fabric stores, making sure I chose the best fabric and pattern.  It wouldn’t have ended up actually being the best fabric and pattern, but I would have tried my hardest. Then I would have had to drag out the sewing machine and find a place to set it up.  I would have anguished over the layout of the fabric and read the instructions over and over. I’d have had to look for scissors sharp enough to cut the fabric and gather enough pins to attach the pattern.  Then I would have tried to figure out the right pieces to sew together.  Eventually, I could have sewn the swimsuit perfectly according to instructions only to have my daughter refuse to wear it.  What a waste of wasted actions!

I wish I could do some things faster.  There are many waiting projects that could use a few minutes of salvaged time.   I think my fidgeting comes from having so many plans, for wanting to do so many things in this short life.  While I’m watering the plants outside, I think of something I want to write about.  I have to drop the hose, run in the house, grab some paper, find a pen and write down the thought that is sure to escape if I don’t anchor it down with ink. I can be doing my daily stretches with Jane Fonda from an ancient VHS tape and pause it several times to text a friend or find a photo or refill the hummingbird feeder so the little birds won’t get discouraged and go elsewhere.

Some might say I have ADHD or something like it but I don’t think so.  I just have a myriad of things I want to do and fidgeting is my way of coping.  To each her own!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Eternity

Mesa Temple 2

 

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

Just when I thought there was no more to write about, I did something stupendous–stupendously stupid.  I feel the capillaries in my face enlarge and a pink glow begins in my neck and travels up to my hairline when I think about it.  I’m hoping the writing of the incident will help me let it go and march forward into sanity, although that may be impossible.

Since my Dad had Alzheimer’s for seven years before it finally took him, and my mother had dementia that made her life and those who loved her miserable for a couple of rough years, keeping my mind throughout a long life doesn’t seem too probable.  However, each of my parents had siblings who lived well into their 90’s with tarp as a shack–whoops! I mean sharp as a tack–minds.  I have been counting on following those with the healthy minds since some of their DNA belongs to me.  But what I did was so crazy that the insanity road seems more likely.

Here goes:

We attended a beautiful wedding ceremony in the Mesa, Arizona, LDS Temple on Saturday.  While there we saw many friends who belong to one huge wonderful family who were attending a different wedding.  Because of the sacredness of the Temple, we are asked to take off our shoes and put on little white socks to go into the sealing rooms.  It was a crowded day and the cubbyholes that hold the set-aside shoes were quite full, but I found a place for my long black boots and a cubbyhole for my black coat.  I even put my name by each which I usually don’t take time to do.  I put on the provided socks and felt a great spirit of love and peace as I witnessed the Temple Wedding.  Had I known what I was about to do, I would have stayed in the sealing room for a long time.

After the ceremony, I needed to go to the bathroom before the ride home, so quickly went to where my boots and coat should have been.  I couldn’t see them.  Hmmmm.  I did see a black short coat in one of the cubbies and thought someone had selfishly moved my coat to make room for her things.  I grabbed it and put it on and in a bottom cubby were some black boots.

“Wow, people were being insensitive,” I thought, “moving my things around like that.”  On went the boots and into the bathroom went I.

While in the bathroom I felt a phone in a pocket of the coat and realized it was in an inside pocket.  I didn’t even know my coat had an inside pocket.  I pulled out the phone and saw that it wasn’t mine.  I had someone else’s coat!  I was mortified.

Just as I told a friend that I had taken the wrong coat, the coat’s owner–another young and beautiful friend–came toward me with my coat.  Thankfully, she was very understanding as I told her that I thought I was the only one who had worn a coat in 60 degree weather!  She showed me my name that I had placed with my coat.  That made me ponder.  If my name was with my coat, was my name also with my boots?  There in a bottom cubby were a pair of long black boots and alongside them was my name.  I was wearing someone else’s boots, too!

By this time I was surrounded by a group of laughing friends so I couldn’t nonchalantly take off the boots and replace them with my own.  They all knew that I had taken not only someone else’s coat, but someone else’s boots as well.

“Your boots are round toed and the others are square toed,” someone gently pointed out.  I have never been a stickler for detail, obviously.

The laughter continued–in a Temple-like way–but my own laughter was a bit hysterical.  Dementia?  Had it started already?

I can hardly breathe as I relate this story because that mishap took a walloping chunk of promise out of my future.  What other imbecilic things am I going to do before the last fragments of my life are over?

In one of my next essays, I am going to instruct my children on how to take care of their aging, demented mother.  They’d better read it!