As far as my life expectancy goes, I’m half way through. My daughter and I entered in to a rather odd discussion a few days ago regarding this. For a 13 year old, she can come up with some pretty deep topics. She felt quite reassured that she would probably have me for at least another 30 years. Having said that, my dad died when he was 50 so it’s pretty much a crap shoot either way. We had that discussion as well which I’m sure will show up in her therapy sessions at some point in her life. What worries me is what I might not be able to do as I enter middle age and move on to “the golden years”. This is still quite a ways off mind you but still. What is going to happen to me when things I can do now become can’ts ? Do I really want to spend years being cranky ? I don’t think so.
My mom is a senior and has to live with some can’ts. She is EXTREMELY active right now with volunteering, craft group, choir, etc. but she has her limitations on physical activity. A busy day volunteering at the hospital wipes her out for a bit, though I’m so glad she toughs it out and still goes. She needs a walker if we go on an adventure but as it doubles for storage and she can walk twice as far, I think that’s got less can’t than she’d like to think. A friend of mine has a family member who has also developed some can’ts. The difference is, my mom is pretty good about her can’ts and works around it. This gentleman is not handling things quite as well and his can’ts have turned in to cranky.
Now this in and of itself is not a big deal by any stretch but his cranky is having an effect on other people. His can’ts make him cranky and provide some challenges for those around him. His was a very active life back in the day involving racing and leather and fixing things. Now this man has some major limitations on what he can do and is not working around it. He is lost in the past of what was and when reality smacks him on his new hip, the cranky comes out.
This got me to thinking – what am I doing to prevent the can’ts ? Right now not a lot. I got out of bed this morning after moving a friend for two days and helping to pack before that and my word things were right sore. Legs hurt, back stiff, calves screaming and don’t get me started on my sore heel ! I tell you 20 years ago I was the picture of health and 20 lbs lighter and could dance the night away. I remember this one time … Ahhhh I see how this works. If you don’t take care of it when you can, it’s pretty hard to take care of it when you can’t. An important life lesson if ever I’ve learned one.
I have much sympathy for those who have can’ts and have turned cranky. I can understand and sympathize to a degree. Once upon a time I could enjoy the Mesoamerican invention of chocolate. I loved everything about it except the headaches, acne, weight gain and sluggish feeling after the sugar high wore off. Other than that it was fantastic ! I enjoyed things with nuts in them until a hazel nut chocolate tried to kill me. That was a true buzz kill. I enjoyed being able to run for longer than 30 seconds before I got my licence and turned my back on those carefree days of foot found freedom. I’m sure I can come up with a lot more examples of things that have come and gone (like the ability to walk on my criss crossed knees – that was a good party trick) but I think you get the idea.
So what do we do with those whose can’ts have turned to cranky ? We will try to remember that having can’ts is so much harder for them than it is for us. We will try to remember that this person once enjoyed a full life that included many things we’ll never even know they enjoyed doing and can no longer. We will try to remember that as we age, our list of can’ts will grow and one day we will be the cranky one bemoaning those by-gone days. I for one actively encourage my sometime’s cranky momma to come out with me and get moving and when we have to go a little slower, I’m just grateful she is still walking beside me.
In the meantime, this has imparted an important life lesson on me that I will try to remember. I’m too young to have some many physical can’ts that are within my control to change. I can go for more walks. I can go for more bike rides. I can get out my yoga mat and do the stretches that I miss so. I can take care of the can’ts before the can’ts become crankies and I have to work so much harder to get back the can. I like the can’s. I like being able to ride my bike where ever I want. I like being able to hike and stroll and meander. I like being able to help my friends when in need and not feel it for three days after. And damnit, I don’t like being cranky.