Yesterday afternoon, our 80+ year old neighbor, Chuck, came to visit. (If you've read a previous post, you know he's living in an RV for the winter with his wife, Frieda, who has Alzheimer's).
Chuck doesn't like to climb the steps into our cute-as-a-button (but very tiny) park model winter home, so I greeted him at the lanai door and Chuck — along with my husband and I — sat at our outdoor table.
Chuck had come to tell us that Frieda had taken a turn for the worse... a "big turn": she can't remember her name now, and she's lost control of her body.
He tried not to cry as he recounted the events of the day before, and he did well suppressing what has to be a painful sense of grief, helplessness, and loss. We learned they'd been married for 66 years, and that Frieda began to lose her memory just a
year ago. But mostly we saw the sad (and courageous) side of getting old... and of losing someone you love before they're physically gone.
Frieda will likely be in a nursing home soon, and if she hasn't already stopped knowing who Chuck is, that can't be far behind. Chuck's future also took a big turn, in parallel with Frieda's.
When he left us yesterday, he said he thought we'd want to know. In a way, I wish we didn't know. But the grown-up side of me realizes I've been given a peek at what might come, and the chance to wrap my wits around it.
At 61 myself, I'm aware that getting older is no different that it was to get good grades in school, to raise my son, to earn a living, to keep my marriage happy, and all the other phases of life. The elements are the same: there's as much joy as there
is uncertainty. The facts, though, are different. And there's more in my rearview mirror than there is ahead of me.
With that in mind, it seemed worthwhile to mention the value of every moment.