by Jackie King
I’m a writer, so I write. Sometimes I have to write what’s foremost on my mind. Today that happens to be writing as I grow older. If you’re a writer, everything is connected with your writing. And no matter what your age is today, one day you too, will be old. So this morning, instead of trudging ahead on my latest Work-in-Progress, I’m talking about my Life-in-Progress.
Arranging your life successfully as you age isn’t as easy as it looks. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I have two daughters in the area who are both willing to help. The problem is, I don’t want to be a pain in their backside. I must say that hard as I’ve tried, I have complicated both of their lives. But I make a discernable effort to minimize their problems.
Years ago I vowed that I wouldn’t unnecessarily cause my children pain. I won’t go into the history of why, just that this was my goal for dealing with adult children. Did I always accomplish this? Of course not. But with all honesty, I can honestly say that I’ve tried.
Here was my game plan when I hit about 75: Since I’m single, I sold my four-bedroom house and downsized to fit into a three-room apartment in a complex for seniors. My daughters helped me, but the decision was mine. Here are my self-imposed ground-rules:
The “treasures” that I spent a lifetime collecting are just “stuff.” Look at the need to shed them as a relief, not a tragedy.
No “meltdowns” allowed. (I had one rather serve collapse right after I moved. Luckily my youngest daughter was with me, and she was wise enough to just let me boohoo in her arms until I recovered my equilibrium.)
I had to try two senior complexes before I found the right fit for me.
I made up my mind that I’d be happy.
I adopted the motto: OLD IS COOL! Because it is. (imo)
I chose a drop-dead date when I would stop driving, and then sold my car to my youngest granddaughter. Her delight at having a bright red, sporty-looking car, sweetened the bitterness of this pill.
As with all of my decisions, I made up my mind not to grieve over what laws of nature governor.
My rule as a writer: NEVER GIVE UP WRITING.
Write something each day that it’s humanly possible. (Did I break this vow? Of course. But as soon as possible, I went right back to writing. And I’m not talking about my grocery list.)
Growing old is sometimes a challenge. One must reject bitterness, regret and loss, and then press forward with hope, courage and faith.
Now back to my new cozy with the working title of Corpse Under a Sagebrush. Which more than likely will change.
Oh, Jackie, what a heartfelt message. I also have been thinking it's way past time to get out of this four bedroom three-bath house and move into something much smaller. My children have also urged me to do that, especially both of my daughters. I believe what you said was best -- You DECIDED to be happy.
My mother lived to 102 1/2 and really LIVED till that age. Most of the time she kept a great attitude and she danced till the end. She was showing the emergency-room staff arm movements for The Macarena when I brought her in with the mild heart attack that would without a couple of weeks do her in. But her attitude remained great. Everyone insisted I write a book about her, which I did and called NORA 102 1/2: A Lesson on Aging Well. Fun! Keep up your great spirit -- and your writing!
Very interesting post, Jackie. I'll agree with your concept that "Old Is Cool," but it has some drawbacks. Seems like my aches and pains increased after I hit 91. I don't drive much outside the Nashville area, although I did hit the road recently to Metropolis, Illinois where my wife and I enjoy visiting the casino. Usually her daughter takes us to places like that. As for my writing, I recently started on an autobiography. I'm not sure who would want to read it except my family, but it's been fun recalling all the things that have gone on over the years. Fortunately I've been a record-keeper all my life. Rater than never give up writing, my motto is never give up, period.
Chester, I can't believe you're that age. How great it is that you and your wife can do things you enjoy and you retain that great attitude!
June, Thanks for your kind words. I'm going to download the book based on your Grandmother's life. She sounds wonderful!
Chester, It's true that being old has its drawbacks. But so did childhood, my teen years, young and middle-aged years.
"Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." From Job, KJV.
Inconvenient sometimes, but it gives us scribes such wonderful fodder for our stories!
I only wish I had the same energy I had when I was a kid of 65.
It's a great idea of sharing works.
I retired from teaching but everything I have done and every job I ever worked at led me to write. I sold my house in a big city bought another in a tiny mid-western town. I share it with my granddaughter and her family- half is hers and half is mine. Going on 3 years, we split chores She cooks, I wash up. She does the heavy household cleaning, I do laundry and fold clothes. It all works out. I'm not alone, I have activities, watch the great -grandbaby a couple times a week for fun. He's a hoot even tho there is a seventy-year difference in our ages.
My first mystery was published this summer, and I'm writing the second for January 2019. I go to author signings, writers conferences, and meet other wonderful writers of all different genres. It keeps me active and my brain is full of ideas. It has been like getting a second Masters degree from all the things I learned, classes I've taken, and books I've read. I've got 20 books planned - hope to live long enough to finish them. Woo-Woo!
Marty, that sounds perfect! I'm so glad you're getting to do so many things you enjoy. Wishing you all the best! June
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