I'm worried about the old ones.
Mommy, Pop and Aunt Grace are all over 80 now, and I'm afraid that they are all finally showing it. They still look good...
But to look good isn't really to feel good.
It absolutely breaks my heart. They've been such a constant source of love and support for me for so long. It just kills me that they are each slipping into old age in their own way. And it's happened so quickly. In the last year, the changes are drastic.
For Pop, it's the physical. He's always been as strong as a bull. Really truly. In his youth, he was not only a minor league baseball player, playing on a Yankee's farm team, but he was a Golden Gloves boxer they called "White Lightning". He fought in the Korean War. He owned and managed his own book distribution warehouse for 40 years, getting up at 4:30 in the morning and heading down to that warehouse. He only retired a few years ago at 80! But now his body is failing him. While he was always a mass of aches and pains, it never got in his way. He was always on the go. But now he just can't do it. His mind and spirit are still as fiery as ever, but his body can't keep up.
For Aunt Grace, it's the mind. I am SO scared for her. In the last year, she has been forgetting more and more. Now, I find myself telling her the same thing four times in an hour, and she still can't retain it. Sometimes she's absolutely normal and extremely sharp, watching her CNBC financial news and obsessing over the stock market, but other times, especially late at night or early in the morning...or if she's had a martini...she just isn't herself. I worry about her in Manhattan all by herself. While she's still very physically active, and in truly excellent health, I fear that she'll be walking someplace and forget where she is and get afraid. Or forget to turn the gas off on the stove or something like that. And we're all afraid to talk to her about it because she's so stinking stubborn and independent. Breaks my heart.
And Mommy? Well, Mommy is still Mommy, thank God. But her fears and worries are getting worse, if that's possible. I mean, we actually had to lie to her TWICE this trip about where we were going, so she wouldn't have a freak out. When we got back from kayaking the other day (which was super fun, btw) and confessed to her where we'd been, she STILL had to take some medicinal blackberry brandy over what COULD have happened but didn't. "In a boat?! On the water?!" Sheesh.
And physically, her arthritis is getting really crippling. Saturday was her 83rd birthday, and as a special treat for her, I scrubbed the bathroom. Odd birthday gift, I know. But this woman is truly, the CLEANEST person in the world (second only to Aunt Grace, but don't tell her I said that), a woman who has always had everything in it's place and every inch of her house cleaned and scrubbed and perfect. But I'm afraid that the bathroom had devolved quite a bit. I guess she just can't see the dirt, and can't get down on her hands and knees and scrub properly. I had thought she might tell me not to do it, but she gave in immediately, which tells me just how hard it must be for her. She was so excited over how nice the bathroom was after I cleaned it that she called the Cathys (all of Mommy's friends are named Cathy) and told them about it "I can see my reflection in the tub!!!".
And the saddest thing of all? Many times I've mentioned Mommy's penchant for what she calls "that slutty look" and all of the "slutty tank tops" I've given her over the years. Well, she has finally, at age 83, decided that her arms just aren't what they used to be, and she needed to start wearing tops that cover her upper arms. So for another birthday gift, I found a couple of slutty tops that had 3/4 sleeves.
I am suddenly faced with the possibility of losing them. And I guess it's making me particularly aware of how lucky I am to have them.
My own parents died when I was still so young. Jude never met my Mama or my Daddy. But these people have embraced me as a daughter-in-law so completely. I am absolutely blessed. And you couldn't ask for better in-laws. They never question or try to control me. They are genuinely filled with unconditional love for me, which I realize is very rare.
And Jude adores them. Absolutely adores them. Even though they are on the opposite side of the country from us, he thinks of them all daily. And I thank God that he has these wonderful old people who worship the very ground the child walks on. For these last three weeks here in New York, he's been giving and accepting as many hugs and kisses as he can.
People think I'm crazy to spend 3 weeks of Camp Mama in New York with the geriatric crowd. Well, all of this is why we're here. I want Jude to get as much time with them as he can before they go.
So when I whine and gripe about how nutty they are, and please know how much I adore them. And feel free to remind me of how lucky I am.