Our current population at Adagio has shifted from Bingo to reading, and re-reading books we know we read before but can’t remember the plot or ending. Books of the past become a new present. Uno and Bingo are for sissies who can’t remember where they left their reading glasses.
In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby says “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!” Of course he’s wrong, but remembering the past famous people of our culture hints that we were once vital, strong and needed. We can be again as long as our wheel chairs are in locked position. Myrna Loy, Clark Gable and William Powell. Hubba hubba hubba. Lyndon Baines Johnson, the dirty rat.
While we are ensconced comfortably at the dinner table with no one asking difficult questions, we can enjoy the illusion that anything can be done again.
Our kids would no longer be the keepers of the driver’s license. The walker parked by our resident valets would truly be the Chrysler or Chevy of the 50’s. The phone call interrupting our meal would again be someone from our past who needs us to fix a problem in the present. We can walk, bend, dress ourselves and pick up our shoes from the floor. We can get an aspirin from the medicine cabinet independently without written permission from a doctor.
We would reinstate the past in a heartbeat. But first we need a nap.
Our families are often less realistic and argue against change more than we do. During the 30 minutes that the family visits we can fake attention and independence. They aren’t around when we can’t remember if the day is beginning, ending or somewhere in between. They don’t hear us insist we took our pills until we are reminded that we took them yesterday, not yet today. Our family is sure we can follow the directions on the plastic box, day and time.
We are important to them and they can’t bear the thought of losing us. That’s nice. But I think a part of going back to the past is that if we are of diminished capacity, they are the next generation at risk.
There is a time to live on our own and a time to admit to needing assistance. There are assessments a professional can accomplish easily. Then comes the hard part. Getting everyone to admit that the past is not the present.