Sitting at my kitchen counter, listening to the church bells ringing and typing furiously away on my keyboard. I spoke with my mother at length yesterday. Not something we began doing until the last year or two. Unusual and pleasant, but not without it’s sadness and challenges. Mom has lost most of the sight in her right eye, and has begun to slow down to the point that she rarely leaves the house without preparations. By preparations I mean the peek-a-boo she has played on a regular basis with her family members and friends has gotten much worse. We’ve always known her to cancel at the last minute on invitations we thought might be fun for both. I think it’s worse, and this time she’s got “the curse of the looming diaper” to scare all of us with. I’m talking about her worrying that she’ll crap her pants while out and about.

I am not in her shoes and I don’t know that I will get there, although it seems a common theme for older people. I think, were I to find myself there, that I would put on a diaper and go. But it’s hard to know.

The eye thing, though, that’s more worrisome. She will lose her license to drive in another two years. That is part of the inevitable kick in the shins that Father Time delivers us over the years. She doesn’t want her husband – my father – waiting on her while she goes about shopping. The last bastion of freedom is waving the white flag of surrender.

It is a much tougher loss to face. One that I take for granted and always have. My freedom to go where and how I want to. I’ve surrendered some of that to the Metropolitan Area Express each day (MAX is Portland’s light rail). I don’t mind, it allows me to knit. I’ll ride buses and trains and avoid driving at any cost, especially in a new location because walking and riding gives me such a window into the place. What if it wasn’t my choice, exactly? Palm Desert public transit isn’t known for it’s commodius nature.

I grew up in California as part of a generation who were marked by their relationship to cars and the feeling that driving where ever we pleased was a birthright. My mother shared in some of that and I think it will color her world for the next two years and prevent her from doing even more stuff that she already does.

My answer to her yesterday was of the pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again sort. Mom, just put on the diaper and go. We never know what will be delivered to us as we age, and have no idea of the time left to us functional or less that. I certainly do not have any of the answers, but I think the best we can do is to live right until the very end of it, in whatever capacity we can.

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