Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Elder Care By Jaye Lewis

Of all the things I NEVER wanted, shopping for “Elder Care,” was at the top of the list. Paper panties, adult bibs, Sippy-cups, and callous removers were things I never thought I’d own. I’m pretty safe with the paper panties, so far, but all the rest, plus much more, have suddenly become of interest to me.

Stretch jeans, with elastic all-the-way-around; shoes with Velcro straps; cushioned bathtubs, cabinets filled with prescription medications – for every ailment known to man, all are on the top of my shopping list. I live from payday to payday, not so that I can buy that exciting outfit, but so that I can live and live well.

It’s difficult at times, just dealing with one new addition. I memorize the name and color code of each medication. I keep them in a see through plastic box, always in the exact order, and I always return each bottle to its assigned place. Before I’m satisfied that it is safe to swallow each dose, I read the label, take out each pill, and I recite the color code and what it’s for, aloud to myself. If my neighbors could only see, I’m sure that the word would go forth, that “Mrs. Lewis is talking to herself again.”

Growing old, a dear friend once told me, is not for wimps. She is so right. It is not easy to fall asleep, as it once was, and sometimes I can uncomfortably feel every thread in the bottom sheet. I often joke that I am like “the Princess and the Pea,” of fairy-tale fame, which tells of a “real” princess, who proves her title by feeling a dried pea through over a dozen mattresses.

My husband accuses me of having pillow fights, as I try to pound my pillows into becoming a perfect mound underneath my head. I lie back, then sit up, then pound, pound, pound, until my pillows are crying out for mercy. And memory foam?? Don’t get me started. That is NOT the perfect pillow! Harder than the Rock of Gibraltar, and only half as yielding, memory foam has been known to keep more stalwart souls than I, sleepless for weeks. Give me latex, on a slanted bed, and someone to rub my feet. Give me a white-noise machine, earplugs, soft cotton sheets, and an electric blanket. Now that’s what I call elder care.

American pharmaceuticals have given me something that is essential for living – quality of life. I eat healthfully; I exercise; and I laugh a lot, especially at myself. Without my medications, I would not be able to go shopping with my daughters. I wouldn’t be able to garden. And I would have no reason to celebrate life.

At sixty-two years old, not much has changed about me. I still have red-gold hair, with just a touch of silver strands. My smile is still young, and I still see that glint in my husband’s eyes, which tells me he has never seen another face so lovely. Yes, my weight is not what it was when I was twenty, but, in truth, I have never been so happy.

We live in troubled times, it’s true, and sometimes, yes, I am afraid. But if we use our eyes, we can still see beauty in our world. If we allow hope to fill our hearts, we can still make a future. We can love our families and friends; we can cuddle with our pets; we can fashion a plan; and we can laugh at ourselves. And tomorrow? Perhaps I’ll find something to buy in Kinder-care. © Jaye Lewis, 2009

Heavenly Father, here we are within our own skin. We are neither bad nor good; yet you love us and put up with us. Let us know You as Father, and let us experience the joy of simply being alive. With all my heart, I pray for each soul who reads this message. I understand the struggles that they are experiencing, right now. Please Father, be their rescue. Be their calm, in the midst of the storm. And Father, would you please remember me and my family? We know that everything we have comes from Your grace. To You be the praise and the honor, forever.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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