“I don’t wanna grow old,” says Mrs. S as she unloads floral sheets from the dryer.
“My mother’s 89… She fell and broke a leg.” Hence, Mrs. S went to Indiana to visit. She’s a middle-aged co-teacher from the middle school.
“I don’t wanna grow old,” Mrs. S repeats. And so we talk about aging and nursing homes as I wait for my rolling sheets in the washer.
I tell Mrs. S a very dear friend gave me the anthology “When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple,” while a very dear sister gave me Yoshimoto’s “Kitchen”.
“Something to read on the plane,” each said.
So I checked in my very thick textbook and finished these two before my 19-hour grueling flight was over. In the background was a buzzing engine, or shuffling feet and silent anxieties in airports between flights.
Yes, these books are about Aging, Dying and Mourning. But these words won’t give Mrs. S any relief, so I just stick to “aging”. And I don’t tell her that I hid from people the cover page of “When I Am an Old Woman…” as the words show in my face anyway. I just don't wear purple.
Words can really hurt sometimes… And now I’m just so glad that Mrs. S has done drying; I can’t stop her from growing old anyway.
So on my way home, I muttered “Dang it! What ugly words to deal with this time.” This, despite my being a firm believer in “Death as a thief in the night…”
For at 30, I thought I was ready, but Europe was lovely.
Then at 40, I thought I was ready, but America said don’t dilly dally.
And friends and relatives aren’t getting any younger. I thought I just had to see them.
So off I went…
And came back to miss those who had come and gone ahead.
And what am I thinking now? I want to feel the pyramids, the stonehenge, the great wall, the Everest… next. Feel the powers that made them…
Do I have time?
Now I gaze at the supposed greens and blooms that should greet me at the door.
The snapdragons are amazing survivors. The yellow mums are struggling.
The little holly tree and the little pine tree are half-dead. The hardworking purple dianthuses have died.
The transplanted red roses didn’t make it either…
Through this summer’s rage, not a tear from heaven.
And what am I doing now?
Reviving them, I guess.
While trying not to mourn.