A number of famous folks, including Eubie Blake and Mickey Mantle, observed near the end of their lives that “if I had know I would live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

Whoever called the later years of life “the golden years” had a sick sense of humor. Cancer ate away at Amy’s mother for the final years of her life and I watched as my wife dealt with caring for a loved one who became a shell of her former self.

I face the same problem now as I watch my 86-year-old mother’s body and mind fail as she struggles to come back from a fall. Watching a loved one deteriorate is heart-wrenching. It tears at your soul, saps your energy and makes you wonder if this is what you will face not that many years down the road.

My mother smiles and seems delighted when I come to visit but she forgets I was there five minutes after I leave. Too often, I walk out of the rehab center shaking, fighting back tears.

The frail woman who lies in that bed if not the strong, independent spirit who outlived two husbands and traveled the world as a widow at a time when most her age stayed on the porch in rocking chairs. The woman who rode her motorcycle from Floyd to Tampa, Florida, in 1946 to meet her future husband’s parents can’t drive a car now or even walk without help.

At 62, I have to wonder. Is this what the future holds for each of us?

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