Friday, November 14, 2014

"Three Score," Coming Up

December 4th is coming up fast. Unless I can come up with a way to mark the day that will surpass, or at least rival, the way I celebrated my 50th, the event might fade way unnoticed. What a revolting thought! I'm still a little kid at heart on "my day;" it might as well be a legal holiday.

There seems to be something about the start of a new life decade that causes people to take stock of their lives, to reconsider, and re-route the process if the old way seems, well, old. At 40, I had finally finished my B.A., and at 50 I was considering if my relationship style was fostering my well-being.

Now, facing 60, and with no intention of voluntarily retiring or slowing down, I'm just wondering if all the pieces of the puzzle are fitting, and, if not, what to do about it. Maybe I'll just start a new puzzle -- now there's a thought.

Okay...that being said, I'll fill you in with what I've been up to in the meantime.

The home renovations continue on in fits and starts. Those of you who are not in my Facebook circle can also follow my progress in pictures on The exterior color has been well received; the husband of a family across the street came over to shake hands and congratulate my progress so far. The neighbors on either side of me have given me positive feedback on how it's like a dramatic facelift for the "old girl," and even passersby slow to smile approvingly.

Tomorrow, November 15th, I'm taking an irrigation class at the Theodore Payne Foundation, to give my future cactus planting in the front a good start. It's been fun to look at others' native landscapes, as I drive around town, and I've already gotten some starting ideas. Under the dining room window, I'm going to put in three medium-sized agave plants. They will be striking in offsetting the newly-unveiled windows without concealing them. Then, in front of the agaves, I want some small, flowering ground cover. All around these, to keep the weeds at bay, I'll put down some white pebbles.

Inside, the bathroom is finally done, with the new shower door providing the finishing touch. Then, the kitchen will begin next week (or so), some more interior painting, and then I think I'll step back a bit, to catch my breath before the holidays and turning of the year. A dear friend just recently volunteered to help with ripping up the old carpet in the hallways and the living and dining rooms, which entails also temporary rearranging of the heavy furniture while we also remove carpet stapling and apply the Minwax.

And then, there's Mom. Physically, she's actually looking a little better, but I've lost her (something I've blogged upon in previous posts). She chats and smiles, and then she turns on a dime. The short-term memory loss shows itself, especially with the night-time "sundowning." Professional experience aside, I find no comfort in knowing that it's a "common" feature of advanced dementia. Previews of upcoming shows she used to watch--Bonanza, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune--are often too painful to see. I also avoid looking at various photo albums, including a small one dedicated to pictures from Mom's retirement party in 1990. They underscore the loss of the person Mom once was, seemingly not all that long ago. The profound sadness and loneliness I carry has recently hit me hard. It's at these times I realize that Mom probably felt this in the late 1980s, and up to Grandma's death in 1996. And then I feel sharp guilt for the amount of support I feel I maybe didn't give Mom during her own caregiving days. Oh, Mom, I didn't do enough...I'm so sorry. I'd used being "busy with my own life" as an excuse.

That's where dialogues with other baby boomers, and reading material in my AARP magazine and on their website is invaluable. Then there's socializing, avoiding too much isolation, and renewing the spiritual aspect of my life. I have begun attending St. Robert Bellarmine Church, as a way to return to my roots. For reasons lost in family folklore, I was originally baptized as an infant, and due to convoluted family politics, I never was allowed to explore Catholicism. The Church's dogma and ritual always intrigued me, beckoned to me, and I have recently begun RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)classes. I have tried to explain this "calling" to myself, and only find that there is a mysterious resonance and peace I feel when I'm at church and in the company of other adults who are embarking on a similar path. That, and the charitable projects in which I'm becoming involved just makes me feel good.

More on all this later. I wish everyone peace.

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