Tag Archives: ageing



There are different ways of being housebound. For many years I have been “bound” by my possessions. Just as I was feeling a lightening of being when I started shedding layers of possessions I was suddenly confronted by another meaning. Having slipped on ice, it turns out that I have a broken leg. Not a serious break, but enough to keep me off my feet for several weeks. Now I am confronted by a new awareness: how difficult it is to live when your arms are occupied by crutches and you can only bear weight on one leg! Worse is the inability to go outside unaccompanied. One afternoon my husband came into the living room and asked me if I wanted the blinds closed, to get the sun out of my eyes, and I was suddenly appalled at the thought and said, no I am enjoying this dazzle, because I cannot get outside. 

I’ve found social networking a bit of a lifeline and this morning when my housemates had all left and I discovered that the internet had not been turned on (switch is in a remote corner of the basement) I was devastated. The thought of eight hours with only the radio as a connection, no interactive possibilities, was unthinkable. I managed to get myself down to the basement and thought, well, now I am here, let’s enjoy the old desktop, so much easier to use than the PlayBook.

When I was growing up in a small town my girlfriends and I used to visit old ladies who would give us tea and cake.  I don’t know how this started but it was something we did as a matter of course, and enjoyed doing.  I kept in touch with several old ladies after I left home, sending them Christmas cards, usually with a new embroidered cotton hanky enclosed as a tiny gift until, one by one, I would get a letter from a relative of theirs telling me that this or that aged friend had died. I did have in the back of my mind, although it was not my motivation, a thought that someday there would be a young person or two who would similarly treat me, would be little threads connecting me to the larger world inhabited by the younger people, the mobile people, the ones who are not tied to the inside of their home. But is is a different world now.

When I retire (and I will be mobile again) I must remember the really old, the permanently housebound, and find ways to become friends with some of them, to be in what remains of my own privileged life a sort of connection for them to the world they are now largely cut off from.



A recent birthday prompted a conversation about age.  A friend is in total denial about aging,  “No” she says, “you’re not old!”  As though that were a terrible thing.  Being, I would say, on the cusp of old age (but vigorous, not frail) I feel that there is some merit in having lived so long and I no longer want to deny the fact.  The problem is partly one of semantics.  Nowadays we would not say that a thirty-five year old is middle aged, although in fact they are.  Yet there is a big difference between the youth of one who is in their mid-thirties, and one who is, say, nineteen or twenty.  Just as the word “tween” has come to describe that awkward period where a child is not yet a youth, but certainly not like a seven or eight year old child, we need words to describe the time between young adult and middle age, and the time between middle age and old age. 

As a child I remember observing the older people in my community.  I was very aware of the two kinds of elders who lived amongst us.  There were the vigorous ones, with strong voices, who fully participated in life.  Then there were the frail ones.  I understood that when a vigorous elder moved into the frail category, they would soon die.  This was in the mid twentieth century when the frail did not survive as long as perhaps they do today.  One day a man or woman was hale, the next their voices began to quaver and their bodies seemed to shrink, and a few weeks or months later they were gone.