Overall I feel like my regular self tackling a new set of challenges. It’s me taking a shower, only now I am sitting down. It’s me making my morning coffee, only now if I fill the mug as full as I used to, it will slosh all over my walker tray as I maneuver to the table. I’m developing calluses on the corners of my palms from the repeated pressure of my hands on the walker.
But sometimes it strikes me: I am here because of time. I have reached the point in my life where my bones deteriorated enough that I needed surgery. For decades I bounced around, jogged, danced, walked for miles without a second thought. The years have, undeniably, left their mark. It is the passage of time, the aging of my body, that has brought me to this place.
That is when I think of my mother. I remember the first time she fell and broke her knee. My husband and I drove her back to her house when she was discharged from rehab. We hovered nearby, arms at the ready, as she hobbled up the walk pushing her walker and then, pausing to recall the instructions she’d been taught, cautiously climbed the two steps to her front door. We prepared food and brought it to her. We helped her upstairs at bedtime and back downstairs in the morning. As she struggled with an extended shoehorn contraption to slide her still-swollen foot into a slipper, I got down on my knees, lifted her toes to direct them into the shoe, then jiggled her heel so it would fit.
That was just a few years ago, I was the middle-aged daughter and she was my elderly, incapacitated mother. Now there are moments when I get confused. As I slip out of the passenger side of the car into a too-narrow area and have to navigate an uneven curb to get onto the sidewalk; as the door of a restaurant bathroom slams onto my back behind me; as I realize with despair that I’ve left my bowl on one side of the kitchen and my spoon on the other, I sometimes feel like I have become my mother. I envision the two of us shuffling around together through the extra wide corridors of the stair-less independent living community where she recently moved.
Then I remember: I am still only middle-aged. When I am healed, I will feel better than I did pre-surgery. I will travel, hike, stroll jauntily around town. I will be back on my way.