Monday, May 9, 2016

Where has my Independence Gone?

“That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion…” ~ R.E.M.
What if the song became an anthem for elderly and we swapped out religion for independence?  Especially when we begin to lose some of our abilities due to illness, the lines from the song,

“I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream”

…takes on new meaning, when the “I” begins to lose eyesight and hearing…

One day we feel young and vital, making our own decisions, taking on the challenges of the world and living every day to its fullest in the manner we dictate (all about choices).  Then, one day, all of that changes.  We find ourselves stripped of making our own decisions, our challenges become making it through the day, where others tell us what to do.  Sometimes this process is a slow transition, while sometimes, it happens in a matter of moments.  No one asks to become dependent.  No one asks to lose his or her abilities / functions.  No one cognitively expects age to overtake us.  Using my family as an example, four years ago, I equated people with walkers to be elderly and infirmed.  Today, three immediate members of my family have walkers and a fourth just received one.     
As a child (since my Dad and Mother-in-Law are still here), it is weird to see parents age, and ultimately become less independent.  For cryin’ out loud, these were the people that raised us, provided examples from which to draw out our own conclusion and tended to us when we were small.  I now stand idly by, watching, as some people seem to not want to accept losing pieces of their independence, some begin to come to terms that they are less independent and some recognize this change and accept it. 

Rebellion has taken on an interesting life cycle.  As a teen / young adult, we rebel against the rules that our parents dictate to us, as we stretch for our independence.  We start to drink alcoholic beverages, some start to smoke, others dabble in drugs (I am not going to be naïve here), behavior unbecoming to the previous generation appears and the desire to be an individual begins.  The ensuing decades most people follow a “standard” life - they become busy with marriage, raising a family, having a career, owning a business, volunteering our time and, ultimately, developing a life.  All of a sudden, the twilight of our years comes upon us, where the actual time spent on earth varies greatly.  I watch the twilight rebels begin to emerge, as they start to drink Ensure, some quit smoking due to oxygen, others dabble in maintenance drugs (morning and evening rationing), behavior unbecoming to the next generation appears and the desire to be remembered as an individual begins.  The ability to drive, cook our own meals, pay our bills and schedule our time slips away from us like trying to hold water with an open hand.

The important thing to remember is to live each day to its fullest.  As they say, treat today as if it is your last.  Do the things that you want to while you are able, for one day, our revised R.E.M. song might apply to you.

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