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Will to Live

Will to Live

A Story by barleygirl
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one possible perspective . . .

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In my late twenties and thirties, I was ridiculously gung-ho about everything. I was all-in, all the time. I didn’t expect others to ride a bicycle across the USA and then hike the Grand Canyon for a fourth time like I did, but at least pursue something with passion! Why not shoot for whatever your stars may be?

It took years of hard knocks before I finally got it . . . how annoying my rah! rah! routine must’ve felt to the throngs who typically go through life mostly just hanging on and getting by. Not to mention the ones waiting to die.

“Most lead lives of quiet desperation” ~ Henry David Thoreau

In his mid-sixties, dad started showing signs of Parkinson’s. Tell-tale tremors would track a fifteen-year downhill struggle for dad during which he mostly refused medical treatment. I lived closest to him at the beginning and he would call me at work complaining of some physical issue. I had to leave work a few times and drive thirty minutes over to his house to try to talk him into going to the doctor. He never went. My opinion, which I wore on my sleeve . . . these little attention-seeking dramas were brought on by his choices, since he refused to acknowledge his Parkinson’s and do something proactive about it.

Since my own active lifestyle was inspired by dad’s path in parks management, I got him a membership to a nearby YMCA with a warm indoor swimming pool for seniors. Disabled folks gather there daily for social activity and easy movement classes. Dad never went to look at the YMCA and check it out. I was bitterly disappointed by this. He was filled with pride about being a manly man, showing off his muscular physique. Dad couldn’t face the shaking skeleton he’d become, especially half naked at a pool with pretty old ladies in swimsuits he would want to seduce. He became more and more reclusive as his condition declined.

I never forgave dad for throwing in the towel without a fight. As his struggle went on, I left it to an older sister to manage his care. She no doubt resented the rest of us siblings for not pitching in. But this sister didn’t grow up in our childhood home so she didn’t believe some of us sisters were regularly raped by dad (after she moved out and was on her own). This older sister did not know how it felt to have dad’s man-sized fist punch her face from time to time. In the midst of deep family fissures, I held up dad’s YMCA rebuff to justify my hard-hearted unforgiving attitude until his death.

Years later, my hard heart melted. We were all just feeble humans trying to find some way to navigate the weird crap life throws at us most of the time. Families are complicated and large abusive families even more so. There are many reasons why we make the choices we do. I’m only presenting some perspectives that may be lost in the strife of end-of-life care.

This came up for me when I read a younger friend’s description of how her dad is frustrating and driving her crazy. He’s unmanageable because he refuses medical attention and seems to wear his pain as a badge of honor. She wrote a powerful and poignant poem about her current situation. My poet friend feels like she’s losing herself as her dad’s neediness swallows up her life. Being a primary caretaker is a tough assignment, especially with siblings that don’t help out. In no way do I want to diminish the huge challenges all caretakers endure.

Reading about such struggles got me thinking back on how much I’ve changed in thirty years. I used to be bitterly intolerant of dad’s choice to die naturally. Now in my sixties I’m just like him, feeling old beyond my years and hating life and having no desire to extend my miserable existence. I do nothing to bring on my demise, but I’m also finished pursuing some elusive medical answer.

After twenty years of constant all-over fibromyalgia pain, pardon me if I’m not searching for the next miracle cure while trying every fix that snake-oil vendors pitch. The more medication I used, the less healthy I became. So now I’m on a course of good health, simple living, natural healing and mind over matter.

I watch older friends die after years of what seems to be a relentless onslaught of medical intervention. I’ll never be one of those seniors who gets acquainted by listing and comparing ailments with other seniors. I must have more ailments than I have names for, but I don’t care to identify anything more to fix. I don’t want to be an old fart who derives a sense of purpose when there are several different doctor appointments to anticipate every week. In my experience, old farts are relegated to a culture of obligatory medical intervention. We’re scorned and disregarded if we don’t choose the only reasonable path.

I try to remember people are concerned about my safety, as a disabled housebound person living alone in the boondocks. I try to keep in touch so people won’t worry about me. I rarely mention my ruthless pain because I don’t want to wear it like a badge of honor. I don’t want to burden others with my choices. But it gets tiresome when people try to save me from myself and my choices. Needing to fix someone is that other person’s codependency problem. Not mine.

I know people my age and older who feel just like I do. There’s no shame in simply wanting to let nature take its course. I made it to sixty and anything beyond that is a bonus in my book. My death at any time from here on out is realistically a natural death of old age. Why is this not acceptable? If you don’t accept my viewpoint, then go away. And many people have done just that.

I rarely mention my physical issues in public forums because friends are eager to copy me on some fake fix they find on Facebook. These postings are a business ploy to cull information about certain groups for marketing. Such gestures have nothing to do with caring whether I thrive or not. The people who throw fixes at me never take a moment to drop me a private message and ask anything about me or my life. They don’t comment on my posted writings. They only care to engage in a click or two which assuages their conscience, I guess. Now they can stop worrying about me for the next stretch of time. If I die, it’s my own fault.

My tirade brings us back to a basic human wish for acceptance. Trying to change someone is NOT acceptance. Merely being tolerated is nowhere near as satisfying as being truly accepted and even embraced. If you cannot do this for someone you say you love, then you are kidding yourself.

We are all annoying cantankerous humans at some point (especially after we finally cease our lifelong people-pleasing gyrations). The more authentic we learn to be, the more we must insist on simple uncomplicated acceptance without conditions. To me this is the ultimate freedom of growing old.






© 2018 barleygirl



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Featured Review

in my mind i am sitting next to you and simply "being" along with you Marge ...chronic pain is insufferable (Norma shares a great deal with you) ... and the decision to stop medical treatment is, in my opinion, a very natural and probably the most healthy choice we may make .. after a life long emphasis on youth and looks and staying "active" ... we have all been herded into clinging with claw to life .. even when it becomes its own hell ... i am a retired RN (as you know) and my life work focused on accepting patients where they are when they came to me and moving on from there .. i worked in Pediatric Intensive Care and so our focus was always positive and we celebrated each and every very small gain as we worked to preserve life ... for me, as for you, life perspective changes with our years lived .. i have gone to the Docs as needed and had some surgeries done that i thought benefited and were needed .. but i am 70 as my decades go down the tubes .. i again look back with gratitude and know with each decade i have had a good go of things and if this one is the last .. well .. i am ok with that.... i will not have extreme measures taken to "save" my life .. its all written and given out to my loved ones ... i know there are some surgeries that may be "needed" in the future that i know i will refuse ... i love your belief that you have so strongly stated ..that it is not natural to live forever ;) i think it is a real tribute to the kinds of friendships we have here at the Cafe' that you are comfortable sharing these trials you endure ... so ... i am sitting with you in silence dear friend ... and you know you are with me and me doggies in the wee hours of morning ... searching the velvet skies for my moon friend and stars ...lovin' on ya!
E.

Posted 1 Week Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

1 Week Ago

Here in your precious share, you've touched on the one thing I regret not including in my essay: mee.. read more
Einstein Noodle

6 Days Ago

oh thank you dear one! thank you!



Reviews

To me this is an appropriate outlook on life and probably more healthy than the alternatives. Yes there are some issues that need to be resolved through medical intervention when they flare up, but no one should feel obligated to take a path that makes them feel uncomfortable, and they certainly shouldn't be isolated by the "norm" when they choose to do so. I like the fact that you take up for yourself and try to mend and heal naturally while entropy takes its course as is destined. What I really like is that you are willing to share your viewpoint, and let some of us in on your thoughts, desires, emotions and ideas when you feel like it. I for one am a huge fan of Margie....you make my day a little bit better, always.

Posted 12 Hours Ago


Very sad but real poem. It is hard to have someone pass by away.

Posted 2 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

2 Days Ago

The ones who have to stay behind are the ones that feel death the most. The ones dying are often ver.. read more
Chronic pain is a he-demon with a big pitchfork and nothing else to do. I hear you loud and clear my friend. This worthy diatribe is a testament to your strength in meeting life and death on your own terms. Nothing wrong with that. There is much to be said for dignity. As a nurse and a woman in her 60s who has seen things she can never unsee, I say there is nothing wrong with that. You Rock ((Margie))! Xo

Posted 4 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Annette Pisano-Higley

3 Days Ago

Absolutely! You know it! Mine just had a health scare for the past two months but the vet gave us ve.. read more
barleygirl

3 Days Ago

I'm thankful to hear that! There's nothing harder to watch than our furries struggling!
Annette Pisano-Higley

3 Days Ago

❤️🐶❤️!,.......:)))
The language of friendship is not words but meanings-H.D. Thoreau
The will to live and how one lives his or her life is extremely personal and a testament to their freedom. What triggered this poignant story and what you have decided from Constantly battling with fibromyalgia is heart tugging, Margie. One thing in all this story that overwhelmed me is your good, kind heart, how you tried to help your father.
I hope you find relief and to certain extent cure for the constant pain you deal with, in the nature that you love so much. Um beijo
The most I can do my friend is simply be (her) his friend- H.D. Thoreau


Posted 5 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

4 Days Ago

The biggest enemy to chronic pain is tension. I've finally come to realize that being around most pe.. read more
Mrudula Rani

4 Days Ago

Some times the small voice inside shouts" just shut up and listen to the speaker!" It is best to fol.. read more
Hi Margie. i can see that you've had plenty of feedback and I doubt I can add much. There is lots of wisdom here wrought by your tough at times passage through life. No, life is not fair, so we just have to get on with it, as you have shown us by example. One thing stands out for me in this is that you found the heart to minister to your dad after all that awful history. You are right that old age can be cruel and the year of ailments that I had made me realise for the first time my mortality. One thing that I have observed is that there are natural ups and downs in most conditions (I know not all) and we can hope for better times.
Take care,
Alan

Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

4 Days Ago

Dying from Parkinson's can be compared to burning to death over months & years. It's that bad. That .. read more
These words of yours strike a deep chord.

My father has recently been quite ill. Sudden and unexplained high blood pressure, then a heart attack, (relatively mild thank goodness,) followed by a stent operation and now a bewildering variety of pills to swallow every day; this, after being pretty much fit as a fiddle for the past seventy two years.

He is making light of it all, effectively ignoring the letters from his doctor exhorting him to attend heart disease clinics and the like; and he skips medication when he thinks he can get away with it; so perhaps like your father, he has clearly decided that sufficient unto the day is enough. Maybe it is just acceptance, or a resignation of sorts that comes over folk of a certain age; or a genetic instinct that the natural course is the best.

At forty one I don't yet know, but I expect I shall come to an understanding; but meantime, my dad's seeming indifference is having more effect on me and my sister and my mother, than it is on him.

'The ultimate freedom of growing old,' captures it perfectly I feel.

Beccy.

Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

4 Days Ago

I love this share! I got some awesome shares from this one, but I love yours the most becuz of the w.. read more
Soldiering on without all the bells and whistles is very human. And courageous. Acceptance is honourable. As for your dad, I think it is amazing you came to the point you have with him. He needed to suffer, and he did, and he did it on his own terms. So perhaps, there was some penance he paid after all. Either way, we all have our ills, our aches, our woes. People constantly need to fix, to treat, to blame, to deny others their own journey. When I was a kid, my great aunt was diagnosed with cancer and went home to die with dignity. She was beautiful till the bitter end, and only took painkillers at the very last. She chose neither to attempt to stave off the inevitable nor hasten it along. This is a beautiful and powerful read. Thank you for sharing. :) hugs

Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

6 Days Ago

I am honored to have incited some great outpourings here, especially your beautiful description of y.. read more
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Gee
There are others in this site who should hurry over and read this, then they may well realise that constant bleating and woe is me writing will do nowt to improve their situation, but could instead alienate folk from both them and their writing. To me they are akin to the boy who cried wolf and are less and less heeded with each posted whine.
Acceptance is the key to living with any ailment, or that of a loved one that is under your care. My old mum had had every ailment under the sun but soldiers on taking each day as it comes, each illness as and when it arrives. Back in the 60's she shot 5 of us out from between her legs in quick succession, the father duly upped sticks and fucked off, she then calved both a step brother and step sister, from sources unknown, and so ended up raising 7 of us on her lonesome. Today folk would be scrounging from the state, complaining as to their (self) inflicted lot, whereas the old one saw it as a case of " it's me that's made the bed so it's me that will have to lay in it".( She went on to adopt my daughters 2 kids, as she was putting them up for adoption so that at 18, she could still go out and enjoy her life !!!)
Mum. has been and will always be the person that I respect and love more than anybody on this earth (it's a different love to the one I have for my wife and child)
Anyway I'm babbling, you're a top notch writer and a lady to be both admired, respected and learnt from.
Hope you are well Margie

Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

6 Days Ago

To dislodge this delightful spiel from you is a million times more satisfying to me than the standar.. read more
Gee

6 Days Ago

It was my pleasure :)))
An exceptional piece of writing Margie, you can certainly master a pen. Life is all about choices, some make wise choices., others not. But what is important is accepting those choices others make. I spent my earlier years trying my hardest to convince one or two of my nearest and dearest that their choices would not have a positive outcome. Years later I have accepted their choices, knowing full well that their life span could be shortened. I have given up on nagging and learned to accept what they are happy with. I have learned to get off my soapbox and accept that it's their life and not mine. If we don't walk in the shoes of others we can't possibly know how they feel. Sending you virtual hugs girlie.

Chris

Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

6 Days Ago

Thank you for writing a real-life synopsis of my piece! You really do a great job of summing it all .. read more
Acceptance is the key - this is something I always come back to - ACCEPTANCE - not only of others - but of self - I the awareness we bring to ourself acceptance will always come to the forefront for me. As soon as we accept, we can then let go. Once we let go our awareness deepens.

It's true we are all annoying cantankerous humans at some point - especially me now when I am so damn tired :) why chastise ourselves for this? I know I do - but for what - if we were perfect there'd be no fun :)

Thanks for sharing BG - you have always struck me a a positive ball of energy - which is delightful. Tell me what brought to to write this piece right now?

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

6 Days Ago

I don't know why we humans can be so intent on trying to change people sometimes! I admit I'm guilty.. read more

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Added on December 6, 2018
Last Updated on December 6, 2018

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barleygirl
barleygirl

Central Coast, CA



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Just loving life & sharing my blessings. more..

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