I know what I want my future to look like.
I’m 63 years old. My kids are all adults and the grandkids have started to arrive.
Life is mostly fun and interesting and pretty enjoyable. Most of my body parts work the way they should and I can still take care of myself and my house. I don’t grow as many vegetables as I used to, but I can still weed a flower patch and grow a decent pot of herbs.
My life is on the downward slope of the proverbial hill, but I’m not yet rolling out of control.
So it’s all good.
Because I’m still healthy, happy and fully engaged with the world around me, I continue to work at staying healthy. I eat well, if too much. We live in a part of New England where we can easily buy local vegetables three seasons of the year. I love to can tomatoes and freeze batches of fresh veggies, so all year long we can eat fresh, local food.
We also eat fresh, local meats, eggs and chicken. No nasty chemicals in our meats.
I’m a good Italian cook. too. No preservatives or precooked foods on this lady’s table! No jars of sugar filled spaghetti sauce. No canned soup with all its sodium. Just fresh and home cooked food. Healthy as hell.
I exercise, too. Sort of.
I mean, I’m not sweating at the gym, but I have my garden, my dogs to walk, and my toddler grandkids who spend every weekday here with me. I run up and down the stairs dozens of times a day, chase tricycles, rake leaves while the kids jump in the piles, and cook and serve all day long.
You get it. I’m active.
I also take my medicine just as prescribed. One for blood pressure. One for fibromyalgia. A fish-oil pill for the old brain. Magnesium for the muscles. Papaya extract to increase my platelets.
In other words, as of this moment, I have every intention of staying healthy, staying active, squeezing all the good juice out of life.
I’m at an age where I think it makes sense to try to keep the old heart beating.
My mother is 89 years old. She still lives in the house where she and Dad raised six kids. She’s still funny, stubborn, determined and stoic.
But she is smaller than the huge personality that she used to be. She has closed in. She is thinner, shorter, more stooped and bent. She is the tiny version of her old fiery self.
Mom is less opinionated than she used to be, which is both a blessing and a curse. Life with her is easier than it once was, but I miss my strong-willed warrior woman Momma.
Mom taught me to cook. She taught me how to choose the right spices, how to make the best meatballs, how to be patient while a good stew simmered. Now she lives on frozen foods or the meals that her children bring her.
She can’t really cook anymore.
And my Mom no longer drives. She used to ride her bike around our town, to work at the local school, to Curves, where she worked out and made friends. Now she doesn’t even drive a car. She doesn’t shop, unless one of us takes her for an abbreviated trip to a local store.
Her world is shrinking around her shrinking frame.
Even our house has changed. It was once the hub of our social lives, filled with happy toddlers, kids on bikes, teen aged musicians, neighbors and relatives at every holiday. It was full of noise, delicious smells, loud and laughing voices.
Now the house is neat and quiet. It feels outdated and quaint.
It feels lonely.
One old lady and her old gray cat now live in a house that used to hold a family of 8 and our various dogs and cats.
It makes me sad.
So I’ve made a plan for my future. I think it is a good one. I think it makes sense.
Here is my brilliant plan
From now until my 80th birthday, I have every intention of continuing to take care of myself. I will eat my healthy veggies and monitor my wine intake. I’ll garden, and I’ll walk my dogs. I’ll stretch and use my hot tub to stay limber. There will be no better medical patient than me. Every doctor’s order will be like one of the Ten Commandments.
But on the morning of my 80th day on earth, I will change things up and take my future into my own hands.
I will give up cauliflower and broccoli. No more fish oil pills for me. No walking briskly, no frozen veggies, no organic soaps.
No. Instead, I will have a breakfast of many fresh donuts and as much esspresso as I can swill. Lunch will be martinis and wicked fattening cheese. Maybe some good olives. And bread dipped in tons of olive oil.
I’ll snack on more donuts and finish the day with a pitcher of more martinis. Vodka martinis. Dirty, lemon, pomegranate, chocolate for dessert.
I will lie on my couch all day with donuts on the table, a bag of chips at my feet and a martini in one hand.
If all goes as planned, I will not have to slowly diminish and leave my house sad and lonely. I will not watch myself slowly shrinking and losing everything that has made me myself.
Instead, I will quickly succumb, leaving my children and grandchildren with a fabulous story to tell about me. And I’ll cross that famous rainbow bridge and find myself free of all pain and grief, and ready for the next step.
Good plan, right?