Indeed I have, and I now understand things about my mother in her later years that I just didn't before. The revelation began when Cliff started removing every trace of cows from the place.
I've dealt just fine with selling the last two heifers. I wasn't emotionally attached to either of them as individuals, and besides, I've said goodbye to lots of cows over the years, especially in the past four years when the universe was hitting me over the head with the fact that it was time to stop keeping cows.
But then Cliff started cleaning up the barn so he could make use of storage space he lost when I bought Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow several years ago. And he removed the makeshift pen in our yard where baby calves had roamed, and hauled the calf hutch down to the pasture. In the cleaning-up, clearing-out process, he also took out the horse stall he and a former co-worker had made for my horse, Blue. Now he will be able to park a tractor there.
I had a vague uneasiness during this process, but it has taken awhile to put my finger on the cause. It's the finality of it all. I got pretty depressed when I realized that growing older is a matter of giving things up, letting things go, one item at a time, until all you have left to give up is your life.
I'm not trying make my readers feel bad. Now that I realize what's happening to me, and that it's just the natural order of things, I can assess my abilities, do things I am able to do, and not focus on what I've lost. It's called acceptance.
When Mother and Daddy were moving from their place at Oak Grove out here to our property, I remember Mother crying and saying she was having to give up so much. I was puzzled at this, since there wasn't anything she had, or did, in that location that she couldn't do here. Of course, she knew Daddy was dying (cancer), and I'm sure that loomed large in her thoughts, overshadowing everything.
When my mom first retired, she began making quilts, simple quilts. She turned them out like a factory, giving them to everyone she knew. Daddy once said he was glad she enjoyed doing that, because it was something she could do as much as she wanted and it didn't hurt her in any way. Mother's other hobby was letter-writing, which was also good for her and allowed her to vent if necessary, as well as to count her blessings. Yesterday I thought about all this and realized I had seen my mother give up things, one step at a time, until she finally gave up and entered a nursing home on her own. By then, she couldn't quilt any more because her vision had failed. She still wrote letters, though, until the last few months of her life.
Am I tying this together properly? Am I making sense?
Now it's up to me to assess what I can still do: I can't "go" for walks regularly, but I'm able to walk anywhere around home and outside, within limits. I can still keep chickens. I think I'm still up to gardening; we'll see how that's going in July. I won't name all the things I can do, simply because they number in the hundreds.
With the cows gone so permanently, I'm thinking more and more about a dog. The only thing that keeps me from shopping for one is right now that we still have a little traveling to do. Once we are unable to travel due to our aches and pains, there will be a dog. I can feel it in my bones.
Here's something that occurred to me: I have a guitar that I get out once a month, if that. Arthritis hasn't yet crippled my hands, and I can still carry a tune: I need to get the guitar out of its case and use it when I'm alone, singing any old thing that comes to mind. I need to do it often, just for my own benefit, while I can. It's "something I can do that won't hurt me". As a matter of fact, I need to sing around the house more, guitar or not. Yes, shouldn't we all be singing as we pass through this world?
So, there you have it. Just my thoughts this morning.