Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tip No. One: Don't Forget that Time Flies

Remember how they told us that perpetual motion was impossible? I never understood that or accepted it. Because time is in perpetual motion. Our cells are in perpetual motion. I am older than I was when I sat down to begin this post. But, not as old as I will be when I begin the next one, and so on. Time, the sonofabitch, waits for no one. So, you know that parent you're looking across the table at wondering how you're going to handle? Well, look hard, buddy, because before you know it, that's going to be you. So, try to remember how it feels to be frustrated with him or her because that's how your family will feel someday about you. At some point in your life, long or short as it may be, you'll likely be in a position to need a little helping hand. So, now, while you still have the energy and mental capacity to do it, remember all the lessons you're learning about caring for a loved one and do the things you need to do now to make it a little easier for them when that time comes along. Make sure the will is in order, the life insurance policies and information are all in one place, you have your doctors and your medications listed out, and, above all else, you've communicated with your loved ones about what do with when the inevitable happens. Take that burden off of them and deal with it upfront.

For my part, I hope I remember what it was like having to haul myself up to the nursing home day after relentless day just to stare vacantly across at my mother because what is there really to talk about when you just saw her 24 hours ago and she can't hear you anyway? I want to remember that feeling so I don't expect the same from my kids. And I want to remember that it is unpleasant to deal with an adult diaper; it just is. I hope my family handles whatever indignity I put them through by trying to maintain mine, but I do want to remember that it's hard so that I cut them slack when they make faces or sigh heavily or, worst case, have to gag. And I hope I remember what I've said here today: we get old. We eventually die. I want to be able to face that inevitability with some grace. The saying, "You're only as old as you feel" is a great one, and I don't want to curl up in a ball and stop living my life just because I pass the half century mark. But, conversely, I want to be realistic and know that no one, not kings nor queens, nor witches and warlocks have ever cheated time and death. Vampires even can die, whether they are the PG Twilight version or the Anne Rice rated R variety. So, I want to remember that's the case and have an advanced directive in place, make sure I've made my proper peaces with whomever I need to, and make sure I've done what I can to take the burden of my last years off my family.

And, unfortunately, that time will likely be upon us faster than we're ready for it. I can still remember my childhood so vividly, it seems like such a short time ago, how can I possibly be in the afternoon of my middle age? One thing is absolutely true no matter what is happening in my life: time flies by unimaginably fast. So, thinking that I've got all the time in the world to put my affairs in order is a fool's dream. I need to do it now. So do you. And I mean that whether you're in your 20's, 30's or beyond.

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