Rendered Fat Content


Aging seems to occur in insignificant increments. For most of most of our lives, we experience life as a relative timelessness with no more than brief glimpses of change. We ride a slow-motion train, destination well-known if largely unacknowledged, arrival indeterminate. I seem about as old as I ever was, though not quite as young as I used to be.

My mom was in the hospital again this week, admitted for observation after a bout of unresponsiveness. Her Parkinson’s might have spitballed her. The doctors couldn’t say anything but that she seemed not nearly ill enough to admit as if her condition were treatable, and well enough to release her back to her assisted living apartment where her needs overwhelm the staff. The doctor advised that we should expect to see a fairly rapid cascading of ill effects, each of which have more or less haunted her all her adult life, but now seem to be conspiring together against her survival.

Will her world end in fire or ice, with a whimper or a bang? I suspect ice and wimper will finally overtake her, but nobody knows, no one could know. I see those same eyes, timeless, peering out of an almost unrecognizable face like a prisoner unfairly jailed for a crime nobody committed. I see there a pleading little girl and an acquiescent great great grandmother, the spitting image of her own great grandmother. Time marches nowhere.

I’m hardly a dutiful son. My visits are short, my excuses ever longer. We have little left to say to each other, her voice thin and weak, mine booming by comparison, she seems most enlivened when the Grand Other Kylie tags along to play with Grandma Bonnie’s prodigious pile of plush toys. We’re all living on one of those edges now.

This old world will soon be different from it ever was before for me, before slipping back into something resembling the same old, same old all over again, back into insignificant increments, undifferentiated, essentially undifferentiate-able. When we notice how short life is, we notice these edges and not the long plain between them, for that seems neither short nor long, though it passes for normal; perfectly ordinary. We are each destined to change and determined to remain the same.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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