Friday, March 6, 2009

Challenges of Aging

I have not blogged a lot lately. Our lives have been preoccupied with health challenges. This is one of the difficulties of aging -- our bodies begin to decline and we experience a variety of medical conditions. Without going into detail, in recent weeks medical treatments, procedures, and/or tests have occupied three to four days of each week. We are extremely fortunate that this care exists and that we have adequate insurance to pay for it. Still, it is a time that requires major adjustments in our lives.

Last Monday we were putting out ice melt on our walkway and today the temperatures were in the 70s! I spent three hours weeding and cutting down the remnants of last season's garden (I always leave the seed heads of plants such as rudbekia and coneflower to feed migrating birds). Now that the buds are swelling and the shoots of bulbs are pushing up through the ground, it is time to get rid of the leftover materials and get the garden ready for the emerging greenery.

However, after three hours weeding and cleaning up debris, I was so tired that I feared I would not have the energy to put away all of my tools (I did, but it wasn't easy). The reduction in stamina is one of the most troubling things about aging. In my mind, I can still do as much as I ever could. But my body gets weary long before my brain is ready to quit. And everything I do seems to take twice as long as it used to.

My mother once told me that in her mind she didn't feel old, but she was trapped inside an old body. Now I understand completely.

Still, I love working in the garden. It is my therapy, and along with music, the thing that keeps me able to retain my sanity. Sure, I could hire someone to do the work (and I do for some of it), but the hands-on activity of weeding, raking, pruning, and planting satisfies a need so deep inside that I can't put it into words.