Archive for Aging Posts

published in Aging, Book Reviews, Change, Inspiration by Maryanne | September 27, 2017 | 2 Comments

Unravelling Midlife – Collection of Essays Explore the Middle Years

 

 

“I believe we have two lives…the life we learn with and the life we live after that.”

– Glenn Close to Robert Redford in the film, The Natural

And perhaps what we call the “midlife crisis” is the dividing line between the two?

I recently had the pleasure of reading an excellent collection of essays in the book, Unravelling; Discovering Our True Selves in Midlife, compiled by Camilla Joubert. All the essays were written by women and the diversity of experiences – and perspectives – reveal there is no one way of navigating the middle years.

However, in my observation, there was one common thread that ran throughout the entire collection: the need to feel some degree of happiness on a regular basis and have a sense of purpose with how one spends one’s days – and if neither of these needs are being met, we have two choices: keep on the same path or change it in some way.

Joubert was inspired to compile this collection after experiencing an “unravelling” of sorts herself…a rather spectacular midlife crisis. After picking herself up off the floor – literally – and beginning the process of weaving together the threads of her old life (and self) along with her new life (and self), she realized she was not alone in hitting a sort of half-way point on her life path and having to accept the uncomfortable fact that to take a single step more in the direction she was heading was not an option.

Here is a passage from her essay, aptly titled “Unravelling”:

“Who had I become? I was completely lost…I would walk around having snippets of conversation, shopping, washing, feeding, cleaning but I wasn’t present. I had managed to ‘exit’ my body. It felt like my soul had decided it didn’t like being inside me! There was a massive void in my life and nothing could fill it…For a long time before feeling lost, I’d felt stuck. Stuck in a life I felt I had little say or control over. That feeling of being trapped inside my head had been as visceral as the feeling of being lost and outside my mind and body.”

I was one of the women who contributed an essay to Camilla’s collection.

My essay was entitled, “The Path with a Heart.” Here are two snippets:

“Throughout all the heartache and the hurt, the hard work and the challenges, the pain and the setbacks, the sorrow and the roadblocks, I think we are on the path when we know that at the end of it all – whenever that may be – we will die a happy and fulfilled person who has achieved what we set out to do. And if we avail ourselves of the opportunities around, a heck of a lot more.”

“So where did I go to find the peace and quiet to begin to find my path? Where my heart rested, of course: John’s grave. Except that it wasn’t just his grave; it was also mine – literally. While John’s destiny was now physically carved into that stone, mine was still a blank. At thirty-two, I knew exactly where I was going to end up – I just didn’t know when. And despite the horrific hurt that comes with ‘hanging out’ with my husband’s headstone, instead of him, it was very conducive to helping me face my own mortality and what that meant for my journey.”

I love this passage from Kathi Cameron in her essay, “The Gen-Ager”:

“I was starting to feel like things were on track; I had a great career, a great man friend, and a great social network. Then, at forty-three, I heard it for the first time, that well-meaning punchline that feels like a kick in the proverbial muffin-top: “You sure look great for your age.”

And then there’s this candid insight from L. Fletcher in her essay, “The Great Skate”:

“I remember clearly a bright summer morning when I woke up, at thirty-nine years of age, and asked myself in a blur of semi-consciousness: “What am I doing? Who am I? Is this what I wanted for myself? Is this happiness?” I knew that I had, in that instant, opened the Pandora’s Box of great existential queries of midlifers the world-over. And now that the box had been opened, it had released a gnawing little gremlin that would not go away. I managed to stall the gremlin by keeping myself busy with my social life and doing everything I could to support everyone around me…Because as long as I was doing everything for everyone else, I wouldn’t have to face my own life.”

And check out this thought-provoking first stanza of the poem, “The Invitation,” that was printed in full within the essay by Casey Ross:

“It doesn’t interest me

what you do for a living.

I want to know

what you ache for

and if you dare to dream

of meeting your heart’s longing.”

– From “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

In the second part of our lives – the life we are living after the one we’ve learned with – meeting our heart’s longing (whatever or whoever that may be) is certainly a worthy goal to continue to work towards. In my experience, however, the learning never ends – regardless of our age…but the learning curve does tend to be significantly steeper in the younger years.

Thank goodness 😊

What are your thoughts and/or experience with navigating midlife?

For further information on Unravelling and/or to purchase the book, here is the link

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life

 

published in Aging, Caregiving, Change, Family, Fatherhood by Maryanne | June 13, 2017 | 6 Comments

A Few Laughs for Father’s Day – Funny Sayings from the Alex Pope Quote Collection

 

Carleton, Dad, MA

“These hot nights cause a lot of sweat and stickiness in my unventilated areas.”

– Alex Pope

In honour of Father’s Day, I thought I’d share with you some funny sayings of my Dad’s.

Over the past few years, when my Dad lived in the care home, whenever my younger brother, Carleton, heard him make a cute (or comically inappropriate) comment, he would jot it down. Not surprisingly, Carleton collected some real gems of “Dadisms” over the years.

Although my Dad had dementia, thankfully his sense of humour, spectacular vocabulary, exquisite grammar, extensive knowledge and astute observation skills still surfaced on occasion.

In life, my Dad wasn’t a Cheerful Charlie, easy-go-lucky, go-with-the-flow, positive kind of guy.

He was more like Spock from Star Trek: logical, intelligent, rational…with an encyclopedia for a mind. In the early days of dementia, his memory loss caused him to be extremely anxious – and understandably so. And yet his wry sense of humour and unrelenting candour still shone through – often with rather comedic results 😊

Here are a few Dadisms:

“Her name is Dr Besterd? I would have changed my name.”

“The girls are REALLY nice to me in here. Probably because there’s no competition. There are a lot of really ancient people in here. They’re like statues. They just lie in bed and don’t move. I feel like I’m in a mausoleum.”

“I’m not going to see Dr Besterd anymore? But she’s gorgeous! I’m going to have to have a heart attack.”

“It’s been a pretty pulchritudinous bunch of girls who’ve been taking care of me!”

“I’m fine for the moment but I’m a walking bundle of anxieties, large and small…but strokes of genius just come to me.”

While pointing finger into empty glass of red wine at Thanksgiving in care home: “Oh, wine steward……might I have a little more?”

“All these little demons are driving me around the bend…I’m getting to the point that I don’t want to do anything. I just want to worry about it, then go to sleep, and try not to wet the bed.”

“One of the great dangers around here is getting nailed by commentarists…certain types of talkers who get hold of you and hold on indefinitely. I’m deathly afraid of these clingers.”

 “This really is a nice walk…I just hope that I don’t pass out and die on you.”

On aging: “The almighty should have thought this all out better…he’s just created a lot of shit and trouble for everyone!”

“I would prefer to live with relatives, but I’d just be a nuisance…I’m an expert at complaining.”

To a caregiver: “Sorry, I just had my pants down and was powdering my behind.”

“It appears that I’m lost…but I’ve found the bar!”

“After 8 o’clock, this place is just like a tomb!”

On a picnic day trip: “This outhouse is only suitable for corpse disposal…it has this gaping maw that is waiting to swallow you whole.”

“I feel like there’s a big black sheet of rolling doom & gloom…with superficial flashes of humour that don’t last long.”

“When you push that plate towards me, my vomit reflex starts to churn.”

Farts while walking: “That was a dry one…but I think there’s a wet one coming.”

“I think I’m going to lose consciousness…should I do it here? Or somewhere else?”

“I’ve got enough misery of my own to be able to deal with other people’s follies.”

After man finishes saying grace, Dad immediately stands up and exclaims: “I feel kind of sick!”

“It’s true…we are temporary artifacts…sometimes temporary accidents.”

“I’ve dirtied a lot of diapers this way. Sorry…Pull-Ups!”

Have a fantastic Father’s Day!

I shall be raising a glass of red in memory of my Dadio 🙂 

Related Blogs by Maryanne

Tempus Fugit – Bahamas Reflections on my Dad

My Dad is Off on his Next Big Adventure

Pussies and Erection Day – Hard of Hearing Humour

When the Engine Light is Red

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

published in Aging, Death, Family, Fatherhood, Inspiration, Relationships by Maryanne | March 7, 2017 | 6 Comments

Tempus Fugit – Bahamas Reflections on My Dad

 

Alex Pope, June 1st, 1933 to Feb 27th, 2017

Tempus Fugit is Latin for “time flies.” It was one of my Dad’s favourite sayings. My Dad didn’t just quote Latin, he read it. The man was brilliant. He was a walking encyclopedia…our Grandpa Google 🙂

At least, up until a few years ago – when dementia slowed his mind and weakened his memory. But he still managed to surprise us all with some one-line zingers every now and then. And he remembered who all of his kids were.

When I visited him in the care home in Linden, AB, more often than not he would open his eyes and a give me a big smile. Sometimes he would even say, “Maryanne!”

Love this shot of Dad pushing ME in his wheelchair!

It was still HIM inside that old body and disintegrating brain.

But although he was comfortable, his quality of life wasn’t much to write home about. He slept most of the time. An avid reader all his life, he couldn’t read anymore…hadn’t been able to for a few years.

As much as I’ll miss him, it was definitely his time to go. And there is tremendous peace in that. His passing came as a relief – that brilliant and beautiful mind of his was free at last.

I am so thankful to have had the chance to say goodbye to him multiple times over the years. I knew every visit could be our last. So I always sang to him “our” song – the one he sang to me as a child: “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.” Up until the last year, he would sing along 🙂

My Dad passed away peacefully on Feb 27th, surrounded by all my brothers and some of their spouses. I wasn’t there…at least not in body. But I was there in spirit.

Tippy’s Beach, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

And now, I am blessed to back in the Bahamas…a perfect place to reflect, think, write, rest, read, walk on the beach and swim in the sea.

The family I usually come to visit here – my Uncle Ted, who is my Dad’s youngest brother, and his wife, Sylvie – aren’t here this time, so it has definitely been more of a working trip than a vacation.

In fact, I’ve been writing up a storm here in this cozy little condo at Pineapple Fields in Eleuthera!

I’m back working on my book manuscript, Barrier Removed; a Tough Love Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. It is coming along swimmingly.

I am writing with clarity, focus and purpose. I know exactly what I have to do with this manuscript now – and I’m doing it.

It’s the darndest thing…for a guy who was so adamantly atheist, I swear my Dad is right here with me as I write, read, think and bask in the Bahamas beauty. But then again, I am my Father’s Daughter. To me, Heaven is a pile of good reading material, a beer, a beach and a story to write.

My Dad didn’t believe in Heaven, or any sort of afterlife for that matter – but if he could have designed a Heaven for himself, I reckon this would be pretty damn close.

Here in the Bahamas, I feel my Dad’s love…for me, for reading, for literature, for learning, for critical thought. But as relaxed and peaceful as I am here, I also feel a new sense of urgency about my writing.

MA on Tippy’s beach, Eleuthera

It’s so easy to slip into thinking we have all the time in the world to do what we need to do. But we don’t. Our time here is finite. The death of a loved one is a good reminder of our own mortality.

And as difficult as it was for us to watch our Dad deal with dementia, it is also perhaps a gift of sorts…a gentle reminder about the importance of making great memories – and to treasure the fact that we can remember. For the day may come when we can’t.

Tempus Fugit. Carpe Diem. Seize the Day, friends. For time is indeed flying by.

Me & my Dad, 2015 🙂

Related Blogs by Maryanne

And Away He Goes – My Dad is Off on His Next Great Adventure

The 82-Year-Old-Man Who Got in the Car and Went on an Adventure

When the Engine Light is Red

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.