HOW ARE YOUR YEARS? – Marilyn Armstrong

When I was in college, two of the women with whom I became friends were suicides. Neither of them was happy, but I would never have guessed either of them was suicidal.

One of them was just 19 when she killed herself. The other was 21.

I have never assumed “everything is fine” for anyone. Even when you ask, you will only know what you are told and that is rarely the whole truth. People are secretive about their deepest fears and thoughts.

“How are you?”

“Everything is fine.”

“You don’t sound fine.”

“No, really. I’m fine.”

How many times do you ask before you realize you aren’t going to find out anything more? When people mention that aging makes them “think about mortality” I realize I began thinking about mortality when Karin died and then again when Anna jumped. Also when a young couple, just married, crashed their car into a truck and died on the highway.

Yet again, when my first husband got kidney cancer at 34 and lived, but still died young of heart disease and medical errors. Then my brother died of pancreatic cancer at 61. One of Garry’s colleagues — in her early 40s — died while waiting for a bus in Cambridge. When my first husband’s father died of his second heart attack at 52, I was pregnant and sorry he never met his grandson. For that matter, Jeff died at 53 and never met his granddaughter.

I knew a young person who died of a heart attack before age 21. Another internet friend, Rosa, died a month ago of a heart attack. I only found out yesterday when her mother called. She wasn’t yet 35.

And of course, there are all the friends our age who are battling cancer, dementia, heart conditions, not to mention the ones who have “beaten” cancer, but of course, you never really beat cancer. You are remitted and that will have to do.

When people complain about not being as active as they were when they were many years younger, I think they are missing the point. Age will have its way. How it hits you is partly a matter of how you used your body and your personal DNA. Depending on your constitution, your ability to walk, run, ride, or whatever you do may be compromised. Even eliminated.

But then again … are you breathing on your own? Do you get out of bed in the morning, even if it is a struggle? Do you find joy in your life? Do you laugh? Are there people you love who love you too? Is life interesting? Are you still curious to know what’s going to happen?

If any of these things are true, yay for you. You are alive.

Mortality is always with us, whether we are old or young. We may not be paying attention to it, or we may be under some delusion that we are exempt from “the end” because we exercise and eat right. But there will be an end.

Maybe, as Jeff used it say, it’ll be a runaway beer truck. Or something unexpectedly medical. It may be tomorrow or in 60 years. Whatever time you have, be gracious and grateful. Many people don’t get a life full of years. Others get the years and manage to be miserable through all of it.

Enjoy your years, however many you have.

Categories: Health, humor, Life, Paths, Photography

Tags: , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. It seems like there have been many deaths among my friends and relations and local folks whom I knew, and I am at an age where it doesn’t usually bother me now, if they went peacefully. I am sorry for anyone’s suffering, but it no longer surprises me when anyone passes on. Last week we went to a punk concert since we knew two of the young guys in it, and during the (painfully loud) show, the lead singer showed people how to administer Narcan to help prevent opiod overdose deaths, and they actually gave out free kits to anyone so that they can help prevent that sort of thing. A dear friend of his had overdosed on heroin last year, so he became a trainer and distributor of this Narcan to try to save people. I thought that was admirable and realistic: even though he himself is not a drug taker or drinker, he is helping others, and that’s great, like making sure there are free condoms available. It doesn’t judge the behaviours but can help save lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Suicide is always disturbing especially when it is a young person who just couldn’t see a future and didn’t get the help they needed.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Every now and then I realize that I have outlived my entire family (from my generation upwards), but then it also hits me that I had a relatively (no pun intended) small immediate family, and most of them were gone by their early or mid sixties. I was also the baby of the family, born to a woman who was the baby of the family, too.
    And my husband and I are both onlies, so at this point we are the next in line.

    It doesn’t color our lives, or define it, but I’m aware of it.

    And we still solder on, making more strange getting-up noises than we used to, adding a new pill here or changing meds there, but our goal is to enjoy what we enjoy, daily. I think that helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Garry is the oldest member of his living family and I am the second oldest in mine,. And they DIDN’T live short lives … but many of them were born around the turn of the century, so they were from “the other side” and came to America as adults. My mother — now gone more than 30 years — was born here, But still a late bloomer. Garry is not overly fond of his role as “senior” in the family. No one listens to him anyway.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Very true Marilyn.I find I can’t do everything I used to do but yes, I’m still alive and I still find pleasure in many things so that’s a plus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are going to be limited by time, but at least we are HERE. I think we tend to forget how many are NOT here and it could just as easily be us. And someday will be. So definitely time to lighten up and enjoy what we have! I have to struggle with morning now, but I get it done and once I’ve loosened up a bit, I’m pretty okay. Not like I was because that’s not going to happen, but I can still hobble around on my own two legs, such as they are. Slowly, carefully, watchfully. But still mine and I’m not limited to rolling. Yet.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tas, it’s one of the reason i enjoy my daily, informal physical workout. My body usually responds nicely, without complaints.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Very well said, although you seem to have had more deaths in your life than most and I’m sorry for that.


  6. It is something I am more confronted with when age creeps up on you. Many I knew are no longer here and I am constantly reminded in the obituaries where the years are shown, birth years now being in my dimension. We live in an area where everyone knows everyone and suddenly you notice they look older, different, but so do I, but i still make my plans for the future.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My husband looks so young compared to people his own age — and he looks a LOT younger than I do. But time has its way and so many people I knew are long gone. So I figure hey, I am still here. This is s good thing because so many aren’t.

      So many people around us are dying, we have almost stopped going to funerals unless it’s someone really close. We’d be going all the time otherwise.

      Liked by 2 people

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