Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One Hundred and Three - and whaddya know

but there are all manner of issues that come up which none of the rest of us Spring Chickens anticipated. Head scratchers, light bulb moments.

My darling Grandmother is one hundred and three years old. I spell it out not in obedience to rules of grammar, but because it is far too important a designation to be relegated to three. little. numbers.

I'll begin by admitting that each year in the weeks previous to her birthday, those of us who are her junior, which would be - well everybody, whisper things to each other like, "Well YES of COURSE we have to have a party. This one MAY be the last." That we've been uttering that sentiment back and forth for the past ten years is the very reason we KEEP uttering it, because now we have the certain foreboding that should we fail to say it, it actually will. Be. . . y'know.

Now back to the original thought. Since it is a rare occurrence to know anyone, much less have in your own family a person who has reached octogenarian status, we find we are discovering new and novel situations on a regular basis. Reinventing the wheel, so to speak. For example. A visit to the dentist is a horse of an entirely different color with a one hundred and three year old. The truth is a trip anywhere with a one hundred and three year old is a whole day venture, but that story's on another page. Dentists do not fill cavities or crown teeth on one hundred and three year olds. From a pragmatic standpoint there's little reason to go to the expense and more importantly, the pain and discomfort to the one hundred and three year old. (Yes, I'm going to continue to refer to her in this manner. It's not easy for me either, it's a whole buncha more typing, but lets get over it.)

When you take a one hundred and three year old to a gastro doctor and tell him she's having the same stomach troubles she's been having for two years only now it's worse, they don't do tests, they don't put on their research or diagnostic caps. They give you a look that says, "She's a hundred and three. What do you expect?" Which she doesn't see because glaucoma took the last little remnants of her vision just after her one hundredth birthday.

Ultimately the doctors are right and while they are using logic, compassion for the one hundred and three year old, and respect for the quality of her life and/or medical treatment, there is an underlying message that I feel in my heart each time I hear it again. She's biding time. She's waiting to die. "No sense fixing anything at this point" is what it all reduces to, back in the niggley little place at the back of my brain at the base of my neck, that place where my idiosyncratic intuits live.

And make no mistake. She's ready. But it still is a forlorn ghost of a thought that stays way deep in the pit of my tummy. Yep. Tummy too.

She doesn't turn the lights on when she gets up in the morning. No point. She's giving away little, sentimental things to particular family members, so she can make sure each gets what she wants them to have. It's all a part of life we don't generally get to experience, but for when you happen to be lucky enough to have a one hundred and three year old in your family.

I'm grateful and blessed that I get to learn these lessons that have come with my one hundred and three year old, for even though some are a little sad, they have become part of quite a family story that even my children enjoy telling their friends.

Perhaps the saddest phenomenon of all regarding a person that makes it to this stature is that when they do pass, the gathering for the service may tend to be small. Know why? All her friends are gone.

So this post is dedicated to my one hundred and three year old Grandmother, who has more life in her than many of us spring chickens, and most assuredly, more wisdom and a rich history of life experience to share.

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