It’s odd. When I chose it, I thought of the “olderwoman” moniker as a little edgy, sort of the wise and proud Crone of mid-1990s feminism blended with Anne Bancroft in The Graduate. A lot of my friends had croning parties* in the 1990s, before I was old enough to qualify. So I’m always a little taken aback when someone (so far it has always been a young man) thinks I’m somehow saying something humble or self-demeaning or depressed in my choice of name. I’m not.
I had fun when I was young and I’m having a good time now. The hardest part was in the middle, when I was raising children, but even that was interesting. It’s interesting hanging out in the blogosphere and finding out how different the preoccupations are in different life phases.
*A croning party, at least in my circle, was pretty much a 50th birthday party with feminist pseudo-pagan rituals. All the web sites I can find easily about it are trying to sell you something. Relatedly, this made me think about Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s Women Who Run With the Wolves, which I read in about 1993. To be honest, I found the Jungian analysis tough sledding but found the stories and myths thought-provoking and interesting. I think I’ll re-read it while I’m on sabbatical. I imagine the stories that speak to me will be different now that I’m in a different life phase.
Thanks for all the kind responses to my post about my mother’s infirmity. She is doing somewhat better and still hopes to improve more. She does not want to make drastic changes in her life (like acquiring a permanent housemate-helper) until she figures out what her long term prospects are. It looks like a good situation may be developing, at least for the short run. My mother’s neighbor actually did this kind of care on a free lance basis in her previous community and is hoping to build a clientele in her new area. She and her husband have repeatedly offered to do things for my mother for free, as good neighbors, but she is also happy to be paid to come by a couple of times a day to do the relatively easy jobs as well as the more challenging jobs, such as assisting with showers. Because she lives next door, she does not need to insist on minimum shifts of four hours, as the services do, and she takes the whole wage herself, instead of splitting it with a management firm, so the cost per hour to my mother is lower and the pay to the caregiver herself is higher. They have said all along that they were willing to be called in the middle of the night if needed. My sister is also talking to another person, recently retired, about being a backup person and someone else to come out for a few hours a week for companionship and to help with errands and small chores. This option was in the air when I was there, but the neighbor was sick and so staying away to avoid infecting my mother. Caregiver illness is one of the reasons there has to be more than one person in the system. There are liability insurance, taxes and other issues still to be checked into. But it’s looking like things might work out.
Real life is like a Kurt Vonnegut novel. You know, you are going along living your life, and suddenly you get popped over into another life. I’m out in California, spending the week with my mother, who in February found herself invalid, on oxygen and very weak, needing a walker to get around the house. She has pulmonary fibrosis and the prognosis is unclear. She was hit with an infection that laid her low, and she might be able to get back to relative independence. And she might not. A year ago she was still taking several international trips a year, and six months ago she was still running around and taking domestic trips. For me, it’s being transported from the world where I am way behind in my writing, have papers to grade and still don’t have the taxes done to another place where there isn’t really that much to do, just hang out and be ready to offer occasional assistance.
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