Friday, September 14, 2012

Heart Age

The other day I was visiting my mum.  She will be 80 next week.  She lives in a care home just down the street from us so I'm lucky I'm able to visit her often.  She suffers from a form of dementia and whereas she still knows who we are when she sees us, her short-term memory is practically non-existent.  I'd say she has less than a five-minute memory.

We've been having some wonderful weather for the start of September, warm and sunny, so during our visit I wheeled her to the outdoor patio and we sat enjoying the sun for a while until it got too hot for her and then we moved under a 'lil gazebo to cool off in the shade.

These days the conversations I have with my mum are pretty much always the same.  Basically it is my mum talking about and asking about how old she is and how old I am.  That's pretty much it.

"How old are you?", she asks.

"45", I say.

"45???"  She is always shocked by my answer.

"And I'm 75", she says, most certain that she is correct.

I tell her, "Well, you're 79.  You'll be 80 next week, but you can be 75 if you want to be."

She's always in disbelief when I tell her she's going to be 80.

"I can't be 80.  How old are you?"

And so the conversation goes...

After a little bit, two other women came and joined us; one a resident in the home; the other, her younger friend.

There was chit-chat about the gorgeous weather and then my mum started asking me how old she was again.

"You're 79 and you're going to be 80 next week", I said.

I've long stopped being irritated by my mum's continuous questioning of people's ages.  She can't help it.  Every time she sees Big T, she asks him his age, every couple of minutes while he's there.  He's very sweet with her and just says politely, "Still 6".

She always laughs at that.

After about 5 minutes of hearing my mum and my conversation about our ages and the boys' ages, the younger of the two women sitting at the table with us asked my mum:

"How old are you in your heart?"

My mum seemed to instantly understand what she meant.

Without hesitation, my mum said, "40".

The woman asked my mum if that was one of the best times in her life and my mum answered that it was, because she had us kids.  I am her youngest and would have been 4 years old.  My brothers would have been 6 and 11.

The woman said in her heart she was 17.

I thought what a great way to think about age.

What age are we in our hearts?

Whereas I still feel like a teenager and am still surprised that I'm not carded anymore (or perhaps that's just vanity?), if you asked me what age I am in my heart, I would have to say 45.

That's somewhat surprising to me because I often find myself complaining about little things.  But as hard as this parenting gig is at times with all the whining, the fighting, the lack of a wardrobe (mine, not theirs), a house that is in a constant state of disaster, this is the best time of my life.

I know it is.

That's not to say I think it's all down hill from here.  Quite the contrary.  I feel people get better with age and if they don't, then they're doing something wrong.

Of course there are things I'd prefer were different.  I'd prefer not to have to work three nights out of the week and be away from my boys and my hubby.  It would be cool if I could get this extra weight off my middle, don a bikini and go on a cruise.  But these things are superficial.  They don't really matter.  (well, except the being away from the boys part, but that will change)

After this conversation with the lady at our table, my mum again asked me how old I was.

"45", I reminded her.

"How can you be 45 when I'm only 40?"

To that I just smiled.

And she laughed.

She's always laughing.

So I'm 45 and my mum is 40.

I've got to say, it's pretty cool having such a young mum.

How old are YOU in YOUR heart??

I missed linking up with Shell this week,
but I'm pouring my heart out anyways.

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mary said...

That was great story Jill - you brought tears to my eyes - sending hugs to you and your young mum! xo

Mommy Inconsistent said...

Thanks, Mary. I know how you miss your mum. xo

Nicole L. said...

Thank you for that, so so much. My mom passed away a few months ago from a very rare form of cancer at the age of 69. I have "conversations" with her all the time, and I can hear her voice as if she were in the other end of a phone call. My mom would have understood and loved the idea of asking how old she was in her heart. I wonder what she would have said?

Please give your momma an extra hug for me...

Unknown said...

That is so sweet Jill :)

Unknown said...

That is so sweet :)