At physical therapy, I see quite a few people my age (over 65) who have had joint replacements. There’s one lady who had a knee replacement. She comes in with her walker. Since I’ve been going for two months, and I’m hoping to be kicked out next Tuesday, I wonder about her. The other day I overheard the conversation that I expected. “You only have $400 left on Medicare.”
“What will I do?”
This woman with only $400 left on Medicare for physical therapy comes in twice a week. Her son brings her and the grandchildren come too. She’s very nice; clearly a really sweet woman. However, she’s not making a lot of progress, and that was the real message of “You only have $400 left on Medicare.” The therapist said, then, straight out, “You have to do something at home every single day for this to work.”
Back in the fall I was seriously contemplating ending it all when my hip started acting up. Having been through it before, knowing the pain, the struggle to find the right doc, the challenge of rehab and the fact that I KNOW I’m not necessary to life on this planet any more (I’m retired) all conspired to make me think, “Why bother?” Pain is depressing and knowledge can be depressing and those two were hammering at my will to live. When Bear persuaded me against that (it’s good to listen to your dog from time time) I had no idea where this was all going to take me. What did she say? “If you do that, you’ll have to find a home for me and I’m your dog.” There was more, but that’s the salient part.
I began to see that fixing my hip would mean my walks with her would be a lot more pleasant for me and longer, probably. I started looking at the positive side of it and moral support from friends — here and in my 3D life — helped a lot. But walking Dusty and Bear at the slough even though it hurt, I think that was the biggest thing. My body was telling me in no uncertain terms how much that meant to me.
Today, having this morning finished (meaning I know the whole story now) The Schneebelis Go to America, I headed outside to clean up messes that have been lingering since before the surgery, really. I had put the lawn mower under a tarp since it was complicated getting it out of the garage — but now I’ve found a kid who’ll mow my lawn for 20 bucks so I put the mower away. I systematically looked for canine ordure I might have missed when it was not so easy to clean the yard. I spent time weeding and giving thanks to my garden for carrying on without me.
The Scarlet Emperor Bean, Cao Xueqin
I think it’s all very nice and interesting that the birds planted sunflowers for me and that the Scarlet Emperor Bean is 8 feet high and is actually making beans. I’m not going to eat them — though I understand they are yummy — I want more seeds. I love this plant and I want it everywhere next year. THEN I’ll eat it.
And walking is good — I have been doing two dog walks each day since I can’t walk 3 dogs at a time at this point. The Airdyne continues to be good (I’m going 12 miles which is the equivalent of a 6 mile hike, my favorite length for a daily hike in olden times). I’ve managed to do the Elliptical Trainer at physical therapy for 15 minutes which is awesome considering it takes a lot of leg muscle and I have never done it before. It’s almost — but not quite — like running or climbing a hill. I like it.
Inside me I’m me, but outside me, I’m an old woman, and it shocks me. It is a reminder that no matter WHAT I do, I will not be young again. That made me think about what it meant to me to be young. I still don’t know — but it does include some possibilities that don’t exist any more. About the time I turned 50 I realized I was entering the time of life when I would start experiencing the endings of the various stories of my life, in other words, the question, “I wonder what will happen?” would start being, “OK, so that’s what happened.”
- I wonder if my brother will sober up? No, he’ll die
- I wonder if I will fall in love and live happily ever after with someone finally? Extremely unlikely, though someone from 25 years ago will realize that you are and/or were “the one,” a denoument you won’t be able to wrap your head around, but that’s OK. You don’t have to. Just say, “I love you, too” and get on with your life.
- I wonder if Martin of Gfenn will be a best seller? Nope but you’ll be OK with it, and you’ll write other books that won’t be bestsellers, either. You’ll learn that writing itself is the point. Some people will read them and love them. That’s going to be all you need or want.
- I wonder how I will retire, what the circumstances will be? Convoluted and dishonest, but you’ll be happy with the result and you’ll forget about it quicker than you can imagine
Those kinds of questions. They led me to this very important question:
“What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”
“Oh honey, that’s easy. You want to walk in nature with your dogs.”
“That’s it? That’s all I want?”
“If you think about the actual days of your actual younger life, what made you most happy?”
“Ah… So that’s why Bear was so adamant.”
It has made me wonder what that other lady at physical therapy dreams of for the rest of her life. I hope she, also, has found it.