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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Getting to the end of all things.


We are all fishermen, equipping our boats with traps and lures, life jackets and survival kits, adding extra ice in those coolers we hope to fill with our catches, as we go on, day in and day out to fight for our survival, one bounty at a time, on most days when the weather is cooperating, and even on those days when most people would rather remain under blankets. We are wired to work; we are wired to support our families; we are wired to keep trying until we succeed.

Our working lives give us sustenance and identity.

Whether in an office or on an assembly line, at sea or on the ranch,  our work has demands on our being, our full attention in the present and our full commitment for the future. We trudge through the worse days anticipating better days. We work and then, one day, we hope to take a rest, run into some extra cash to fulfill the dream of a bigger boat, a set of tools, all to make our work produce more income, more security for those days ahead we know we won't have enough strength to pull another load, to handle another complaint, to type another inquiry. There will be a time, you tell yourself, when all this will pay off; our lives will improve, and lady luck will smile broadly and long upon us.

Then, we are too old for work. Or, our boat brakes down; our equipment is too ancient; our energy level can't keep up anymore. It's time to retire. Time to enjoy the fruit of our labors. Or, sell what we have and move out of the rat race, identify the necessities and live without those trappings we have come to rely on.

When the end is near, we all think of ways to pare down. We might sell our house and buy a smaller condo, with no upkeep expenses. We try to sell our stuff too; or give it away as stuff will tie us down.

After all the dismantling, reality kicks in. What do I do with all my time? How do I live without the comforts I have enjoyed all these years? Will I miss my old work? Will I miss the grand kids? What happens if I become very ill? What happens if my money runs out?

We take a long time to prepare for work, decades. We take very little time to prepare for the decades that follow work, for the decades when our choices will be just as tough as the choices we had in our youth, yet the time to recuperate if we make bad choices is very short. Our health and social lives will change drastically; our partners, too, as we are then left to deal with life's circumstances on our own. If our families were close, there will be comfort. If we still can drive and travel, more comfort.

Mostly, the race to the end of life is a sad string of circumstances we have no idea how to handle, and very few resources left to address such needs.

12 comments:

Velva said...

Wow, powerful post. Its true. We are so caught up in the beginnings of our lives we don't plan or fully comprehend the chapter that marks the end of our life's journey.

Velva

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

You've just described the course of all our lives in a wonderfully unique and moving way, Rosaria. It can be so scary to be glimpsing into the unknown, aware that good health and life itself are finite and that all relationships, even the best ones, end with a painful loss. This time of life is such a mix of worry, anticipated or very real loss and savoring the deliciousness of having health, independence and life for at least one more day. I think we've been thinking along parallel lines with our current blog posts!

Marty Damon said...

Too true, Rosaria. I feel sometimes as though I'm in the honeymoon phase of aging. We are in relatively good health, are okay financially, and even have a few new enterprises and experiences ahead to look forward to.
I'll wake up in the middle of the night sometimes with a catch in my heart, and worry pointlessly about what things will be like ten years from now.

rosaria williams said...

It must be that we're about the same age?

Maggie May said...

That was very to the point and I do agree with what you've written.
So much of ageing is like a lottery and the best laid plans all depend on our health and circumstances that we cannot tell what is going to happen to us.
I think living each day as it comes seems to be the best way forward as everything seems to me to be hinged on the state of our health.

Maggie x

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria ... I have to say I'm so pleased I'm blogging and attending various courses, giving talks and writing articles - nothing too onerous .. but it keeps my brain going and gives me new view points. Cheers Hilary

LindyLou Mac said...

I found this beautifully written post a rather emotional read Rosaria. Take Care.

the walking man said...

I was not prepared for retirement at all Rosaria. It all happened in a day, one life prosperous and ever busy traded for another that clutched me for years in the medical machinery and eventually spit me out on the side of the road.

Now all these years later I intellectually understand what you mean but I am not worried about the end game at all. None of my kids will want this house but some squatter will, the fortunes we have had are less material but of greater worth than the money we do not spend. *shrug* I, my wife, we will die when we die then it all becomes the problem of another; until then I wake, I live, I sleep and believe I will repeat the process in the morning. Evolution through life should be slow and nearly imperceptible.

yaya said...

I'm watching friends going through the retirement phase and trying to learn from them. I'm about 4yrs away from saying good-bye to the medical career that I've had for the last 40yrs. Hubby and I are talking about down sizing from a 6acr property to a smaller yard and easier maintenance. Hopefully I'll be ready when it comes but I also remember my parents always talking about what they'd do when they retire and then my Dad died young and Mom retired alone. But she traveled and continued to work at jobs that she enjoyed, after leaving her hospital career, until around her late 70's. She'll be 90 in May and still lives in her same home but with my sister there to help her. I don't know if 90 is in my future but hopefully I can get there with as much grace, fun and determination as Mom has. I know it's a slippery slope and life can throw you a curve any time...I wish you well and hope you're doing OK. If there was one thing I would say to young people about aging it would be to stay as active and healthy as possible...it's harder to get it back in your later years!

Hilary said...

Yup, I'm finding myself in a very scary place right now. Everything has changed drastically for me and I'm not prepared. I need to find work outside of the home for the first time in decades.. at 60. Scared doesn't even begin to cover it.

Friko said...

Oh dear, very recently I faced up to some very unwelcome questions and events.
Without help. Sure, we have family, but family isn’t always willing to drop their own life and come to the old folk’s assistance.

It turned out not to be quite as horrendous as I thought it would be.

One thing I think I have learned: somehow we get through. And second time around will be less traumatic than first time.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Very poignant post. I found when my first child got married that my life was on the downswing. That was a startling position even though I knew I had much life ahead of me. Still, the "big" events were over and I needed to move on to find new ones. Now I'm in a mode of deciding how I want to spend the rest of my time as that limit has appeared in my thoughts and actions. Certainly food for thought, to be cliche.