Saturday, October 11, 2014

Turn the page, stir the soup

In one's younger days, the death of an agemate is usually from something like a car accident, completely sudden and random and rare. Eventually, death from natural causes starts becoming the norm, beginning with the heavy smokers and drinkers, which is somewhat easily accepted and expected. But when the seemingly health-conscious ones start toppling, we are suddenly facing our own mortality.

The most recent agemate death is that of a college friend whom I knew and liked but was not particularly close to. I wonder if she had any regrets other than wishing she had gone to the doctor sooner (although I doubt that would have made any difference - a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is basically a death sentence). She was an English teacher, and during the summer embarked on some interesting adventures such as attending a Shakespearean workshop and participating in a pilgrimage through Spain. We tried to get her to Women's Weekend, but she was usually involved elsewhere.

What regrets will I have when the time comes? There are some things I would like to do while I still can, but they are not critical to my happiness. I'm not inclined to take a trip around the world or write the Great American Novel or become an expert in anything other than dabbling. I actively seek inner peace, but that is a process, not a goal. I really can't think of anything all that critical that I need to do before I pass on.

The few regrets I do have are based on things I could have done better. I could have been a better parent, could have made some different decisions regarding my education and career, could have been kinder at times. But most of those things would require that I be someone other than who I am. And I am stuck with being me.

The husband of a friend of mine suffers from chronic heart disease. After his first near-death experience, he took stock of his life and focused on completing a long time goal. After his second near-death experience, when asked how that affected his outlook on life, he just shrugs. Been there, done that.

I love my kids, and am proud of them. I absolutely adore my granddaughter and am happy to be a regular presence in her life. I made it to retirement, which I hope to enjoy for many more years (knock on wood!) Someday I may have to give up the gardening, the knitting and spinning, the rest of it. But not yet. Please, not yet.

Friday, October 03, 2014

No naps for you!

One of the delicious things about retirement is, if you get sleepy in the afternoon (or morning or evening), you can stretch out on the couch and take a nap. My usual MO is 10-to-20 minutes, just enough to reset the meter, like a power nap. Follow up with a cup of coffee or tea, and I'm ready to go again.

Occasionally, though, I fall into a deep, deep coma-like sleep that lasts 90 minutes, about the length of a full sleep cycle. During this dead-to-the-world state, I may try to rouse myself, struggle to open my eyes, to no avail. Sometimes I dream I am trying to open my eyes and can't, even though I am doing something sight-worthy like driving a car.

The long naps would not be a problem except sometimes I can't risk being unable to wake up in a timely manner. Like today, I'm dying to doze off for a bit, but I'm making bread and don't want to ruin it or burn the house down. (I can see me dreaming I am trying to escape a burning house but can't see because my eyes won't open.) Or the days I pick up my granddaughter after pre-school. Can't fall down on the grandma job.

Usually, those long naps occur after a poor night's sleep. Sometimes they also cause a poor night's sleep, like last night. Not only could I not get to sleep, but once I was asleep, a storm woke me. Betsy is afraid of storms but also getting kind of deaf, so she didn't waken then. She waited until about an hour before I had to get up (contractors coming today) to make sure my sleep was shortened at both ends.

At least I don't have to go to work on top of a crappy night's sleep.