Friday, July 15, 2016

The Privilege of Age

I know a sweet lady, just a couple years older than me, who has pancreatic cancer.  She is one of the funniest, warmest, friendliest,most upbeat people I know.  She and her doctors were fairly optimistic in the beginning that she could beat it, but now, six months in, she is not doing well. She is constantly sick to her stomach and in pain. I saw her a few months ago, and didn't recognize her at first. She had lost so much weight, as well as all of her hair. But she was her usual cheerful self as she described her treatment, and how she was coping with the challenges of chemo.  I saw her husband today, and with tears in his eyes, he told us how sick she is now.  She has lost another 22 pounds just this month. He described how if she has 30 minutes a day where she is not throwing up, they consider it a great day.  She is fighting a good fight, and she isn't ready to give up just yet,  but the chances of her winning this fight are not in her favor. She has a great husband, several kids who range in age from late twenties to late teens, and a few new grandbabies that she adores.  It just seems so unfair. She should have many more decades of life to complain about wrinkles and gray hair, fight with her teenage daughter, love her grandkids, and travel with her husband. It is hard to believe that someone as vibrant as she is could be struck with such terrible luck.

Thinking about this dear woman, I want to never complain again about that extra bulge that has appeared around my middle, because it means my body is working the way it should.   I want to never miss a chance to just hang out with my kids and husband, even if we are doing nothing, because doing nothing is a privilege.  I want to never take for granted getting out of bed and having a million errands to run, because I would miss those errands if I suddenly couldn't do them anymore.  I want to be thankful every day that I can help my parents out, because it means we have another day together. I want to love my wrinkles and jowls, because it means I'm still here to look myself in the eye.

My Grandpa Paulson is known for telling people that it is hell to get old. That may be true, but in my humble and still rather young opinion, it is a different kind of hell to not get to be old.  As long as I am here, and still getting old, I plan on enjoying it, especially if I have to enjoy it double for a friend who never gets the privilege.

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