The thing about reaching a (ahem) significant milestone age (coming up in six months for me) is that you have a lot of memories because you've done quite a few things.
You remember big chunks of your past. The dreams you had, the events you attended, the people you met.
When you are a 'young immortal', you don't think too much about the toll what you do is having on your body. All your life your body has withstood injury, healed and you just...carried on. No harm, no foul.
The problem is when you suddenly realize that...you aren't a young immortal anymore and there has been a lot of harm over the years. Eventually that harm cannot be healed entirely and you have to come to grips with the reality that you are now entering the territory of the 'old'.
People scoff at me when I say I am now officially old. I saw a doctor today who chuckled at my saying that now I was 69 it was time to retire. I appreciated the sentiment, but the fact remains - I am no longer a young immortal.
However, I am privileged to live in Canada in the 21st century. I have benefited greatly from our universal healthcare (e.g. the treatment I got today has already improved things and I didn't pay anything out of pocket for the doctor visit.) I will soon get hearing aids, which I will have to pay for, as I pay for my eye glasses and the prescriptions that keep me going.
I have had life saving surgery and chemotherapy. And I am still here to complain about my body breaking down, failing me in ways that distress me, but come to most people at some point in time. I've been fortunate that it came to me as late as it did, given I was production weaving up until not very long ago.
The doctor asked me a lot of questions before doing the treatment and was happy to hear that when I say I'm retiring, I'm not about to sit on the sofa and eat bon-bons. What I am doing is cutting away the parts of my life that no longer bring me joy, and haven't for quite some time. While I enjoyed the fellowship of other creative folk at the craft fairs, I'm an introvert and making nice trying to convince people to buy my textiles was not much fun. At all. The preparations, the cost, the never knowing if there would be sufficient sales to cover the costs of doing the shows - costs that only ever go up - and the physical toll of standing for 6 to 10 hours a day just wasn't at all enjoyable. Ever. Driving through the mountains on tight deadlines in winter weather? Not fun.
So I come across photos of myself from long ago and far away and I remember that person. I remember her very well. But I am no longer her. I am older. Wiser. I hope. I have accomplished so much more than I ever expected.
When mom was in hospital being told that the only thing that they could do for her was transfer her to hospice, she looked down at her hands in her lap, then looked up at the doctor and said "I've had 90 years, 85 of them were good."
If I can go out with the same attitude, I will be happy.
In the meantime, the new treatment today is looking promising and after months of my activity horizon shrinking, I told the doctor that I felt I might be able to get my life back again. No, not the life of that 30 something person, but the life I had two years ago, before the wheels began to fall off.
And if not, I will happily take any improvement at all.
Your Body is a Car Your Soul Drives Around