As one (too much to dare for many) of you already knows, I fall into the category of the aged old. I'm still learning how to cope with a body that is no longer as co-operative as it was, set in a mind that still seems fairly sharp around the edges. I'm learning to pace myself to make do with less of the phenomenal energy I used to have, to accept gratefully and gracefully the delights of an afternoon nap, and other times. When people offer me a seat on the subway train, I smile and sit down murmuring how nice it is to be old. I still wash and try to make myself presentable each day but I don't fuss about make-up, not that I ever did much fussing, relying arrogantly on excellent skin that came from my Icelandic genes. I have been invisible for years now and it's an advantage, most of the time, except when someone walks into me or steps across my path or rushes into the subway train before allowing me to come out. Then I want to shout "Am I invisible?" but I don't because I am. People of a certain age simply do not see me. I know that. I just have to get used to it.
There's an inner monologue by the old woman in Doris Lessing's novel (s, now published as one book), The Diaries of Jane Somers (the first one), with her sad acknowledgment of dwindling energy coupled with the overwhelming daily necessities that she can't cope with. So she leaves them, and each day slips into a greater morass. I can totally relate to that. I look around me now and can see lots of things I should attend to, little chores, repairs, replacements and so on that I no longer have the time, energy (or money) to take care of. It's okay. It's not as bad as some because I've moved so many times and lost so much with each move that there's less to take care of or worry about. (You know the old saying, "three moves is as good as a fire".) You hear of people who have lived in the same house for 30-40-50 years and the time it takes to shovel out the detritus of their lives when/if they finally leave, usually not by choice.
I've been dealing with all this, not the mess and accumulation, but the thought of it, in my new book about aging. I've written the first draft, as some of you (one?) know, and now I'm filling in the blanks. This is one of the problems, but it has less to do with failing strength than it has to do with disappearing support. The chief problem of the elderly is loneliness. I'll get to that. (Heck, I'm already there.)
All it takes is time.