Until the arrival of the Internet in my life, I never knew how many people have problems sleeping, especially women. As the number of my Internet friends increases, I am more and more aware of which ones are night owls, which ones are morning people, and how many folks are liable to be awake at any hour of the night.
I don't know when I last slept for eight hours straight. I do know that in the year 2000 when I started working at Kohl's, it was already rare for me to sleep through the night: I had no problem falling asleep in my chair by 8 PM, but staying asleep all night was a different story. I've read all these articles saying people need to get more sleep and I say to myself, "Oh sure, you can say that, and give all those useless little tips... but when none of your advice works, what then?"
It really doesn't bother me so much, these days. If I lay awake too long, I reach for the IPad and play Sudoku, or sometimes if I have a book in progress, I'll read that. It isn't that easy to lie in bed and look at the Ipad, but I never get up until four A.M., so I make do. When my arm gets tired of holding the device, or my neck gets a crook in it from having my head on too many pillows, I attempt sleep again, and sometimes succeed.
A lot of people I know are going through the cancer battle right now, and here's something that occurred to me in the wee hours of the morning: Getting old is like having cancer, only worse. You can survive cancer, but you can't survive old age. At some point it's going to kill you.
Cancer is painful and full of unexpected surprises. So is old age. Cancer is scary, not so much because you are afraid to die, but because you are scared of what's going to happen BEFORE you die. It's the same with aging: dementia, blindness, total loss of hearing, loss of bladder control; which will it be? Maybe all of those and then some. Oh, and guess what? No matter how old you get, you can still get cancer, so there's that to wonder about.
You will hear lots of people saying, "I am a cancer survivor."
When did you last hear anybody say, "I survived old age"?
And now you know where people got that saying, "Old age ain't for sissies."
I hope this doesn't seem pessimistic. I just happen to be a realist, and this is something I've thought about frequently.
On the other hand, I do eventually get up around 4 A.M. and thank the good Lord I have another day. I ask Him to help me bear the aches and pains of old age. I thank Him for the little girl who is often under my care, and ask Him to help me do nothing that will damage her spirit. I thank Him for the man who has shared this life with me for almost forty-nine years, and ask that he can continue to enjoy many more years of retirement.
But it's all going to end at some point. So I will try to muster some enthusiasm for this day and get on with life, while I have the chance. No matter what your religious beliefs, you will still cling to this world as long and hard as you can. My mom, in the years after Daddy died when she was living here on our property, used to ask, "Why can't I just die?"
But at the first tornado warning that came on television, she was heading for the basement.
This world may not be my home, but it surely has been a wonderful campground.