Staying Alive

I had many years of caregiving for elderly parents that irrevocably changed me. I was not left with words of wisdom, just fear–a wide interstate four lane streak of fear for my future as a 63 year old, a 63 year old facing the facts.

Others, thankfully, face this same fear with more courage: SEE THIS YOUTUBE VIDEO about a group of elderly men and women in a movie called “YOUNG @ HEART. I am hoping to learn from them how to face these facts and sing and dance at the same time. Neither talent, even in my prime, drew a crowd. In fact, it cleared a room or two if I remember correctly.

But, visual imagery is my niche. It is as close as I can get to telling this story. Not many want to look and I don’t blame you if you look away or skip this post. This piece was recently in an Exhibit called, “Firsts”. Several artists tried to translate one of a kind experiences into their particular medium.

Today, in the NY Times is an article about “Slow Medicine”. It’ s an article about life’s end and, ultimately, being heard. It’s an article to be read, but as Bette Davis (who would have been 100 years old last month) famously said about getting old, “It’s not for sissies.” I am Head Sissy, by the way, so I’ll totally understand giving it a pass.

©Pat Coakley 2008

4 comments on “Staying Alive”

  1. Your visual art is stunning. It’s amazing what a picture can say. I see and feel your exhaustion, your heartbreak.
    I heard an NPR show on the book, ‘Slow Medicine” and I do agree that we need to get back to not sustaining life by such artificial means. We don’t let people die any more, but their quality (and our quality) of life is a “slow death.”

    I hope you can heal.

    ~Carol D. O’Dell
    Author Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

  2. Thank you, Carol, for taking the time to comment. I see by your book title that you are familiar with this territory. I had thought of writing a book but then realized that I’d have to make it in the shape of a life preserver and figured no publisher would go for that!

    Again, thanks.

  3. a subject close to my heart too as i work with geriatric patients. I love my job and look forward to going to work every day because both the patients and the staff I work with are so appreciative and stimulating.

    but it has made me fear for the future in a way that I had never anticipated ten years ago before i took this job. Ignorance truly is bliss. I’m torn between thinking everyone should be exposed to the realities of old age and wanting to protect people from how dire that reality can be.

  4. Nursemyra, You have company being torn about whether to expose or protect. I wanted to look away, but couldn’t. My fear of the future came into being during this time of caregiving and it has never left me, in fact, only worsened the older I get!! I think the young are really not affected by “facts” and “statistics” only by personal experience. And, when that loved one does go down those dire unimaginable roads, it changes everything and one’s fears begin to include strange territory. Thanks for commenting!

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