My mother lived 85 years, most of them healthy. She fell and broke her hip at 82 and that was the beginning of her decline.
I used to tease her when she talked about getting old. I’d say, “You’re the youngest old person I’ve ever known.” And she was.
When she was in her mid~seventies, she still washed and waxed her car, painted the interior walls of her house, and rearranged furniture any time she decided she was tired of it the way it was ~ and that was fairly often.
As I was growing up, my father worked shift work. When he was on what he called “evening shift,” he’d go to work at three P.M. and return around midnight. My mother and I would be in bed when he got home. I don’t know why she didn’t leave a light on, but she didn’t. So on the days she’d rearranged furniture, my poor dad would come into a dark house and run into things or fall over something that wasn’t in that place when he’d left that afternoon. Occasionally, he could be heard shouting words that were unfit for my young ears. But he finally learned to turn the nearest light on before taking too many steps. As the years passed, I heard him joke about the whole thing many times. He’d laugh and say, “I never knew, when I came home, where the furniture would be.”
They were quite an odd couple: my dad was quiet, easygoing, loved to tease and have fun ~ and my mother was a human dynamo! From the time she awoke, if she wasn’t doing, she was planning what she was going to do that day. She had to be busy all the time. There was no room in her life for idleness, and she couldn’t tolerate it in others. This caused problems from time to time but they, somehow, overcame them.
Unfortunately for me, I was more like my dad and, as I grew up, many times she’d say, “You’re so slow~ just like your dad!” Even after he died and I was grown, married and had children, if I didn’t adhere to her wishes for things to be done on a certain schedule, she’d remind me that I was just like my dad. The good thing was, by this time, it no longer mattered to me and I took my own sweet time doing things no matter how agitated she got. Actually, I liked being told I was like my dad because I loved him in that special way all girls love their fathers.
Strange phenomenon though ~ the fact that he was so laid back and died of a heart attack at the young age of 63, while she was the Type A personality who lived to 85. Never made sense to me. I have a theory, but I’ll keep it to myself.
My mother aged beautifully. I visited her at the hospital on one of the last days of her life and found her asleep. I stood staring at her smooth, flawless skin, white hair and peaceful looking face. I said to myself, this is how I’ll remember her.
And as tears rolled down my cheeks, I recalled this quote:
“Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art”. ~ Stanislaw Lec, Polish poet