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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Growing Old: The Future as I See It

Given the alternative, as many have said before me, growing old is not so bad.


What a choice, eh? But I want to look at that alternative for a moment—the one we don't mention in polite society. That is, death.


I'm not ready for it. I want to be clear that I'm not talking here about fear of death. It's simply that I am not ready yet. I will be, at some unspecified time in the future. I know I will be. And you'll be one of the first to know when I am ready. But my goal is to use up every piece of fabric, even the tiniest scraps, about a week (or less, if possible) before I die. And to use up all the Japanese paper, the handmade paper, the watercolor paper, the same way. To use up every skein of yarn. Every spool of machine embroidery thread. Every bead. You can see that it'll be a while yet before I'm ready. And I know—and you know (I'm telling the truth here as I see it)—that I won't die until I'm ready.


And when I die it will be at home, in my bed, which has been my reading table, my desk, my nap-friend. I'll be in my bed and all my children will be there, and I'll be present, so aware, not frighteningly disfigured or wasted, just me. Just me there saying, look, see how easy it is. It happens to everyone. Nothing to fear. Let me show you how to do it. I'll be wearing a flannel nightgown. Unless it's summer. Summer is a problem. What will I wear then? I sleep nude when it's hot, and I can't quite see Naked Mom bravely sitting up in bed saying goodbye. I'll have to give that some thought.


I have a lot to do before I'm ready, and I guess that's good, since, as I said, I'm sure I won't die till I'm ready. Many years down the line. Oh, many, many years.


But when I do finally die, the world will say, "Oh really? I'm so sorry." And life will go on without me. Because that's what life does. It goes on.


Death must be hardest for those who most need to be in control. I say that as if those control freaks had nothing to do with me, and yet here I am thinking I can dictate the terms of my own demise. I might as well be King Canute commanding the waves to stop. Can't you just see me telling Death to come, not come, come this way and not that, come at this time or not until that time? Once you think about it, Death is a pretty serious control freak himself. He always has to be in control, doesn't he? He always has to have (to BE!) the last word. And have you noticed? When it comes to a battle of wills, Death wins, every time.

Copyright 2008 Ann Tudor