How Young Is Too Old?


Lately I’ve been contemplating this puzzle: am I too old or too young? Specifically, too old to live alone, or too young to live with others who might feel that they are too old to live alone.

If you know me, for sure you’ll say that I’m not too old, in fact, I’m too young. But here’s the thing. Parts of me are broken and I don’t know how to fix them.

Last fall I was told that my shoulder needs surgery, again. As soon as I was done saying all the bad words I know in all the languages, I realized that it was impossible. In 2010 when I last had shoulder surgery, Shel did every little thing for me, fastening my bra, moussing my hair, all the stuff married people do for each other when they absolutely have to. Because I couldn’t do those things alone.

So now I struggle with that shoulder every day, and try to ignore the pain and awkwardness for as long as I can. Because I can’t think of the alternative. Really, who is going to do up my bra in a pinch?

And if I have that awful surgery again, and it really is brutal, I have no Shel. Living alone, I’d basically be going bra-less and shampoo-less for a couple of months. And while I might have done that in the 60s, I’m way too old for it now.

And then, a couple of days ago I broke a bone in my foot, something that’s surprisingly excruciating. I have to wait almost a week, because our healthcare here is appalling, to see someone who might know why this happened to me while I was just walking across the parking lot at work, and tell me what might be done about it.

“Stay off it,” said the nice Urgent Care doc. Uh, how? I need to cook, do dishes, buy groceries, feed the cats, how in tarnation am I supposed to stay off it?

I guess I always thought that by the time I’d be needing help with the quotidian, the simplest stuff, I would have found a partner, or at least a companion. But no, here I am four years after Shel’s death living with just my cats, who are decidedly not helpful under the circumstances.

So yeah, I’m brave, and independent, and all that good stuff. But seriously, I’m only going to get older,even I will cop to that. And while my mind and heart are as good as ever, which is pretty darn good, various other parts of me are letting me know that all is not as it once was.

I’d like to get my shoulder fixed. I’d like to get my foot fixed. I’d like them not to need to be fixed! But hobbling around with the heavy bag of cat food in my left hand because my right shoulder doesn’t want the load, thus putting all that extra weight on my broken left foot, that sucks. And when I say it sucks I mean that it sucks the big one, and that I don’t know how to make it better.

Am I too old to live on my own? Am I too young not to live on my own? You tell me.

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9 Comments on “How Young Is Too Old?”

  1. Sheldon Says:

    No answers but it made me think. You’re perfect in your imperfections. I hope you heal because you are too young not to.

  2. Gary and I were talking about this today. His big fear is of losing his mental faculties… not knowing where he is or even who he is. We have friends with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Sure, they’re older than we are, but still. Are we looking into our own future? My Mom, at 93, is still in good health, but her memory is fading, and she needs lots of help with meals and housework.

    I’ve promised Gary that I’ll take care of him. I’m well-versed in medical conditions, symptoms, and medications. After his surgeries, I made sure he was well cared for. I’ve convinced him to get tests to figure out unusual symptoms, and he then got them treated.

    But suppose I’m the one who needs care. Would he even know what to do? There’s my daughter who lives nearby, but is it fair to expect her to be my arms, legs, and brain? My son has said he’d take care of me. All I have to do is move to Alabama. Uh… I don’t think so.

    It’s inevitable that we worry about these things when we reach our age. Like old cars, we have only so many good miles before the engine and tranny need replacement. We can squeeze a few more miles out, especially if we’ve changed the oil regularly and had tune-ups. But when it comes down to it, every car ends up in the junkyard. Not a pretty thought…

  3. melinda way Says:

    after dealing with a broken arm (thankfully left) these past few months, I know what you mean….I ended up going to the hair salon to get my hair washed…a nice treat actually…and wearing bathing suit tops that I could step into & pull on instead of a bra….but my husband did help a lot with the cats & house

  4. Mark Says:

    Times like these are the times for friends and family to help you. If you can’t depend on them when you need them, why are they there? If I lived there, I certainly would be happy to pitch in in any way that would help. You don’t have to live with someone to have a helping hand ❤️.

  5. Allene Goforth Says:

    Abra, sorry to hear this. Have you checked to see if there is a home healthcare organization in your area? They will come to your home and provide the kind of help you need until you are healed and ready to do everything on your own again.

  6. Barbara Jacquin Says:

    I think we all face health challenges sooner or later. Mine is worsening vision but I’ll have to work it out one day. Can you do up the bra in front and just turn it around? If not, hell, just go bra-less! And yes, treat yourself to the hair salon…but do you have to drive to get there? Hmmm…. I would get a personal assistant or whatever it’s called to come for the hard and heavy stuff if you can. Courage! At least it’s not life threatening.

  7. As Barbara says, we’ll all face these problems in the end.
    I only live 5 hours away – Tacoma – if you’d like a visit to hump cat food, etc., and the chance to swear at un ros-bif! .
    Merci pour tous vos mots!

  8. Jeanne Says:

    is there perhaps a student looking for housing that would be willing to trade being be a home health aide while you recover in exchange for housing?

  9. Gail Says:

    Because I now live along, the hospital would not allow me to go home after knee replacement surgery. I went directly to a rehab hospital for 1 wk. Then I was fine at home alone. You may find that situation also.

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