Backtracking & Aging In The Dance of Life

Backtracking & Aging In The Dance of Life

7 Minute Or Less Read Time

The best thing about getting older is not recalling that you’re getting older

Recently, I’ve glimpsed my mental disintegration and how it’s going to happen and how it’s already happening and I gotta tell you, I’m not all that worried about it.

I spent the vast majority of my life thinking that sex was the only thing that mattered only to reach the conclusion when I got to my 7th decade that it doesn’t matter much anymore.

Either I was wrong all along about that or I’m a different me than I used to be.

I have fond memories of sex but I also have those for good acid trips, numerous visits to NYC, more than a few unforgettable meals, and certain long-gone automobiles (oh, that candy-apple-red, 289-V8, factory ordered, 4 on the floor, 1966 Mustang, wherefore art thou now? Oh where art’ the snowballs of yesteryear?)

The way I see it, I’m losing my mind already.

I remember lots of stuff, more than enough to occupy my waking hours and my sleepy-time dreams, but my struggles to recall certain words, dates, supposedly “memorable moments” from my glorious and ignominious famous and infamous past, become more and more a part of my daily struggles to remember. And very rarely does it matter to myself or anyone else.

My brain is slowly losing wattage and I don’t care.

Listen youngsters, I understand, when you imagine that you’re still at the top of your game, you’re bound to be reluctant to even glance fleetingly in the direction of a possible future where you are lesser, diminished, no longer the fabulous person you imagined you’d one day become and that you presently still think is out here waiting for you.

Well, here’s some good news as your brain carries your mind away into some hazy, confused place, as weird and foreign as a distant land, that same brain will have you sufficiently out-of-it to barely notice what’s happening.

Fear not my darlings the great thing about losing it is that by losing it you have no idea what “it” is any longer, anyway —

I hope you’re reassured by reading this because I can assure you I’m not.

but, you know, whata we gonna do?

Coincidences Or, then again, maybe not so much

Coincidence 1

On October 24, 1997 my stepson, who’d been suffering, truly deeply suffering, from persecutory hallucinations brought on by Schizophrenia, hung himself from the deck of our house.

After cutting him down by slicing through the red strap that he’d used, despite my best efforts at CPR, he was gone.

He had left behind a sweet, thoughtful, loving note addressed to his mother and me, both apologizing and explaining.

That was a very bad day. I’ve never really recovered, nor, of course, has his mother nor has our son Jesse, who was the first to see Eric hanging there, still as a branch on that windless day.

Jump ahead one year, minus a single day, to Oct 23, 1998.

With the first anniversary of Eric’s death the next day, a day of such heartbreak and pain looming over the coming weekend, I went to the mailbox and received a letter from Toni Markiet, Senior Editor at HarperCollins kids’ Books.

She was offering me a generous advance and a contract to publish my first novel.

I’d been writing for 30 years, wanting this, working for this and, by this time, all but certain that it would never happen. I was nearly 51 years old.

I rushed to the college where my wife Patti was teaching, barged into her class and waved the letter in front of her.

We both knew, in that instant that our lives, would never be the same. We didn’t know then how enormously different the changes would be, that came in January 2001 when this skinny little first novel won a HUGE national award.

This knowledge of shock and uncertainty was similar in uniqueness to, but of course utterly different, from that day a year earlier when I’d had to tell her that her son was dead.

What are the odds that such exciting, great news would arrive at such an exactly, almost impossibly perfect time to help us offset the pain of the next day’s dawning and memories?

What are the odds that a day we’d spend drinking champagne and toasting Eric and ourselves, our tears of sadness and now joy, too, would be flowing together?

Patti claimed it was a miracle offered-up by saints and angels, which I don’t even believe in.

I called it a coincidence, which, to be honest, I don’t really believe explains it either.

Coincidence 2

There aren’t all that many things I’ve done that I wish I could take back. but one of them is pissing on the grave of a friend I’d once tried to love.

More to the point, a friend I’d tried to feel love from.

I didn’t set out to do it, piss on the grave that is, and coincidence, if you believe in such a thing played a big role in it.

The pissing happened, as I think of it, at night, although that doesn’t make much sense because I don’t recall going to the cemetery after dark and the gates would have been locked.

Still, it’s hard to imagine, standing there, whipping it out and urinating in broad daylight. Although I don’t remember NOT doing that either.

Alcohol was involved.

I was a bit drunk, At least “a bit,” probably more than that. Although this is not an excuse, just a fact offered up more for clarity than as justification.

I’d gone to visit my stepson’s grave and such visits were difficult and big reminders of losing him and of just how painful fucking life can be.

I was there specifically to share a beer with him and say a few words to my memories of him. We were alone, just me and him, cremated and under the ground, and all the other buried dead people. Mission accomplished, I’d begun to walk back to my car, parked nearby and as I walked looking down at the other nearby graves, suddenly I saw it, only a few spots away from my stepson’s grave.

A stone with the name of an old lady I’d once known and who had to my way of seeing it, betrayed me.

When she was dying, I learned only later, she’d told mutual friends, not to tell me she was sick.

Our personal history had been long and mercurial: I’d attended her husband’s funeral a few years earlier, and I had helped bail her shit-heel son out of trouble numerous times.

I’d put up with her bullying and disrespect for many years, both before and after my son was born with a ruined brain.

When that had happened, she’d wept and tried to comfort me, my own mother living far away and wrecked as I was by my son’s condition, I think my old lady pal wanted to be, and acted as if she was my surrogate Mother:

But her idea of mothering was mostly nasty, condemning, disapproval while providing just enough faux ‘caring’ to keep me confused and dependent.

The cemetery, was/is huge, acres and acres of graves but as coincidences go there was her grave within 10 or 15 feet from my stepson’s, despite them never having met and having no connection, whatsoever, not Familial, nor social, nor in any way.

Drunk, and shocked to stumble upon this final resting place of my former intimate/tormentor, her name, etched in granite staring up at me from the damp, green ground, her dead silence now in this world of deathly silence incapable of teasing, mockery, or any further cruelties.

Yep, I pulled it out, absent any hesitation, and peed on her grave.

I wish I hadn’t done that.

I wish coincidence had not placed her there, under my feet and given me this bad choice.

But hearing myself say ‘I wish I hadn’t done it,’ as I’m writing this, I realize that I don’t wish I hadn’t done it all that much.

Certainly not enough to say I’m sorry. because, thinking about it now, I’m not.

And this is probably why this story is about coincidences, and not about pissing on graves.

Today, NOW, I’m 73 yrs. old. Tomorrow I’ll be...older.

A birthday is only 24 hours long, but it sounds like a LOT more.

Because my b-day is in mid-December, I’m only the age I turn on that day for a few weeks. This is because after all the hoopla associated with of New Year’ Eve, etc. dies down, from about Mid-January on, when I, or anyone else, brings up my age I say, a numerically appropriate/accurate version of “I’ll be 76 next year.” This is technically correct in that in calendar year 2023 I will turn 76 (“if I make it,” a parenthetical I’ve added in recent years to acknowledge the extra helping of time-rage I feel about getting so damned old). I neglect to mention that I won’t be 75 for about 11 more months, because why quibble? Facts are facts. Numbers don’t lie. And neither do the looks of pretty young women and older pretty women who don’t see me as sexually hot and who in fact barely see me at all. Old women are no better, especially the widows, they look at me, if at all, only as a potential recipient of grief-casseroles should Patti my wife and my age kick the bucket before me. So, yeah, I’ll be 74 tomorrow. and I’ll be 75 for a few days in January before I begin describing my age “I’ll be 76 next year,” because I’m the one suffering this regrettably best alternative left to me — and I might as well do it any damned, grumpy, old way I wanna. Happy birthday my ass. Gimme some cake.

Saying Goodbye to the Dying

Especially at this time of year saying goodbye to the dying has a cumulative effect on your soul.

As if the coming of fall, with all its endings and disappearing and changing isn’t difficult enough, this time of year is especially painful when it’s full of anniversaries of the deaths of people we’ve known and loved but can know no longer.

Sitting at a bedside holding the limp hand of a loved one still cherished, takes its toll.

Doing this more than once, doing it over and over, one loss and one goodbye to the next, takes a piece of you away each time.

The watcher waits, witness, sitting silently, perhaps softly chanting prayers but holding heartbreak, despair, and grief at bay until the vigil is passed.

There is a terrible cost to this and you won’t know the price until it’s time to pay.

But know this now, you’ll never be the same once you’ve lived through others' dying, right up until and all through the moment when your time comes to leave.

An Older Poem in Celebration of Autumn’s Arrival This Morning

The older I get the more I appreciate every-fuckin’-thing

No point sitting down only to try and write a poem; I mean for that expressed purpose. You can’t do it.

Well, you can, but what you’ll get is a poem that you’ve tried to write, a poem filled with intentions and ambitions and poetic tricks, etc.

Earlier today, a couple of hours ago, I went for a walk. It’s late November, but this is Tucson, 63 degrees and it feels much warmer in bright sunlight.

The dog wagged his tail as we strolled down the dirt path. And watched a jack-rabbit beat-it out of our way.

Sitting here now, several hours later remembering this walk I hope that someday when I’m lying on my deathbed, I’ll be lucky enough to recall the walk itself rather than this poem about it.

I live in Spokane full time now autumn here is the real thing.

Today’s revisit to this poem is years later.

Patti and I just got back from another walk on this early fall day.

Our dog is gone now, chasing laughing jackrabbits in the sky. And I’m enough older to hope that on my deathbed, which I’m much closer to occupying, I’ll remember both these days and both parts of this poem.

When you get old you get greedy for more of all of it. And hungry to remember it, too.

Just Weighing Separator

~More~ Just Weighing Death & Dying Prose Terry Trueman The Impermanence