Haircut, Pedicure, Now What?
By Alice Herb
Hair cut done! Pedicure done! 4th of July at my beach house, wonderful! But now what?
Stupid question? No- all the pleasure I felt at being myself again did not keep me from knowing the crisis hadn’t ended. I’m still having to isolate and figure out what to do with myself every day. To a senior like me, each day is precious because I don’t know how many I have left and there is so much I want to see, read, hear, experience. Yet the days seem to fold into each other and it’s difficult to remember what happened yesterday, not only for what I did but what I read or watched. I am tired of saying I am lucky. But I am. I write this blog. I can travel back and forth safely to the beach house driving my car and having a change of scenery. My family and friends are more or less OK. We are not worried about jobs, have Medicare, etc. But that does not erase our reality.
AND now loneliness has set in and with it an inability to do the many things I know I should do. Let’s do loneliness first. What I miss most is the simple everyday event of seeing and enjoying people in the flesh. Sure, I see people in the market and on the street but that’s not a personal interaction. My son is busy with his business and his son, my grandson. His daughter (my granddaughter) is 1,000 miles away in Canada. My brother, my only sibling, is still recovering from a long illness. My good friends have their own issues though we continue to call but not as often. There’s not much to say. I’ve even been able to see a couple of them for real – dinner in the bike lane outside a local bistro six feet apart with fire engines, ambulances, and a rush of traffic punctuating each spoken sentence! But at least it was human contact. The rest of the time is alone!
Being alone, as I’ve written before, is not a problem for me because I am usually busy and overextended. But now, with a list full of things I should be doing, if I get one done, it’s a miracle. It’s a kind of ennui that is different from procrastinating. It means sitting for hours reading and then not remembering what I read. Watching wonderful, imaginative programming but there’s too many of them to really appreciate each one on its own. Still hating to cook and stopping altogether to make that effort. And so it goes. But enough of this.
I do believe that this emptiness, if I can call it that, is more prevalent among seniors. Younger people have more worries and urgent business to take care of – jobs, children, parents, etc. While these needs may be overwhelming, they also stave off loneliness and listlessness. But back to my generation! The optimist in me demands that we look more positively at the future. You see I did manage to write this blog, overcoming my malaise. Will I cook tonight? Maybe. I did even make my bed! I answered some emails and edited my contact list. So that’s a start. I am considering reviewing the 100-odd pages of the book I am writing and setting out a plan to put a few hours in every day to get it done. In between, I hope to restart my decluttering campaign. I have many too many things that I don’t need, not to mention my work files which should be shredded. Plus, I am looking forward to hearing positive plans and progress from my grandchildren and other family and friends.
Then I think we all have a bucket list. If we are physically able, we should review what we always wanted to do and give it a try. There is nothing we can do immediately about the state of the world and we are doing something to improve it by staying isolated and healthy. How about a little discipline and impose some order in our minds and bodies. Here are some ideas:
-Are we taking medications that dull our brains and bodies and make us feel much older than we felt four months ago? To overcome that, I try to take a walk every day – one with a purpose because otherwise there’s nothing interesting to see. And I do Pilates twice a week via Skype! I do puzzles every day – word, picture, jigsaw. That sharpens my mind. We each have our favorites!
-I do try to stay in touch -by phone with at least one person every day. Without that contact, my mood darkens and I get very cranky!
-I stay in touch with the outside world. I read at least two newspapers every day, on-line. I am also trying hard to read magazine articles. I do realize that my restlessness has shortened my attention span. I usually am a book reader and so now I am trying to get back to reading at least one book in the pile near my bed. That gives me something different to think about and talk about.
-I try to do some planning for the future. Replace my dishwasher. Replace my old dilapidated TV and have some new carpentry work done to accommodate a smart TV.
That’s my shortlist of ideas. And I keep thinking of my former neighbor at the beach. He’s 94 years old and when I called him to find out how he was, he replied: “I woke up!” Much as I laughed, I do think it’s a good goal for all of us so we can see a new world coming. So wake up and DO SOMETHING!
Alice Herb is a retired attorney, journalist, and bioethics consultant. Having reached the age of 85+, she’s more than ready to share her experiences and opinions with agebuzz readers. Want to comment on something she’s said? She welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
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