When I’m Taking My Last Sweet Breath of Life …
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee/@GeeGranny
Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
Who would have thought? We got old … just like that! I mean we don’t think old … don’t act old … talk old. Of course, when we walk we try to never show our ‘old’ we feel in our bodies 🙂 For older adults … we always smell good. I remember someone writing on Facebook once … that all older people smelled like ‘shit and piss’ … those were the words they used … not my words.
I love for my hair to smell beautiful … I have since being a young girl. I love my perfumes … along with my clean body. Skip is the same way. Old bodies that smell wonderful! 🙂 I want to smell good to the day my ‘old’ body is cremated … soar up in flames to Heaven with a wonderful scent of … Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds! 🙂 What kind of ‘old’ person am I? I never heard one … ‘talk like me’ 🙂
Our bodies are lucky to even have the medical conditions, problems they have. We groan, moan as we get up from sitting. We hold our backs, sides, arms when we get up from the bed. Our bodies protest every time we do something. We feel everything 🙂 After many surgeries … you are going to feel something.
I won’t go into the long list of medical conditions, problems for either of us … but, I will say this … I’m so thankful, grateful to have them. I’m lucky to have all that’s happened to my body. I didn’t want to die … Skip (my husband) … feels the same way.
My oncologist told me this past year that I shouldn’t be here … everyone is gone who were sick like me … 16 years ago. I am a cancer survivor … Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Skip is a cancer survivor … Colon Cancer … he also, was a miracle.
Heckfire, I’m lucky to have all my medical problems as well … it’s good to hurt every day of my life … I’m alive! 🙂 Every pain I feel … may make me cry, moan, groan sometimes … but, I never forget the time I battled cancer for 3 years … and amazingly … won.
I slipped out of Death‘s hands when I went into Congested Heart Failure … and other things that happened to me. Skip has slipped out of Death’s grasp so many times … so, we are proof that Death doesn’t win … every time.
That fighting spirit I have … who knew my fighting spirit was so strong! I inherited that from my Grandma Alma … who lived the last 20 years of her life as a paralyzed woman … she never felt sorry for herself.
Tommy … my only child … sitting beside Grandma Alma’s grave.
She never lost her compassion, love for everyone’s children. She could raise Hell with the best … but, she was the most strongest, most wonderful woman I ever knew.
My Grandma Alma would protect a child in a heartbeat … just let someone come close enough to try to take a scared child clinging to her dress … her good hand would reach out for her glass of ice and water … the next thing you knew … somebody’s temper was cooled down! Her eyes became fire … she would glare them until someone backed down … no one wanted to go past that expression with her.
She’d throw that glass of water in someone’s face in a split second. Oh yes, she may have been paralyzed but … she was fierce when it came to her love for someone.
She made everyone … think … better of pushing over her. She was just a paralyzed woman … her body weakened from being in a coma, having a stroke. Her eyes, strong voice … her manner made one forget. That’s why children ran to her protecting hand … I hid behind her big, upholstered recliner/rocking chair … many times.
My Grandma Alma as a young woman …
If she ever cried … it was from frustration, anger that Hell burned all around her. When she quit crying … all got quiet around her … and everyone knew … to back off, leave her alone. My Grandma Alma became … even stronger after she cried.
Her everyday life was pure Hell … nothing stayed calm in her house … so many people in and out. They brought their fights, problems with them … they would forget Grandma Alma was paralyzed … she was so strong. If she ever showed any weakness … everyone … fell to pieces. She held them together like glue.
When Grandma Alma died … so, did the ‘family’. They were close before, yet they constantly fought, raised pure Hell. When she died … the ‘glue’ was gone … everyone fell apart, the gloves came off … Hell became … hotter here on earth. See … the house was over one of the portals to Hell … Grandma Alma kept it closed.
I look back to when I lived in her house … I won’t say ‘home’ … I can say … Hell. They owned the house … yes, it was their home (Grandma Alma and George … the only grandfather I ever knew … George was blind). I just never associated the word ‘home’ with ‘their house’. Strange. That house to this day makes me physically sick … not to look at it … but, to try to step into it. Only Skip knows how it affects me.
My Grandma Alma and George … the only grandfather I ever knew … and the kindest man I ever knew as a child.
I look back … feel such love, respect for a woman I wish had lived in my adult life when I had matured. I wish I could have made hers and George’s life easier. I didn’t ever get to help do that …
Strength, fighting spirit … compassion with the biggest Heart I ever saw … empathy, a gentle touch with her good hand (though I’d been on the receiving end of her good hand when … it wasn’t gentle).
Gloria Faye Brown … once a little YOUNG girl 🙂 … now. OLD.
Do you know … I think I became a lot like Grandma Alma through time? She was my hero as a child … a paralyzed woman who was stronger than anyone I knew then, who walked on both feet … used both arms. Only she ‘took and took’ so much bulls___ from anyone who wanted a place to land … raise Hell.
I’m completely different in that respect … you aren’t going to raise Hell in front of me … I can be Hell if you want it. I live a quiet life … I chose to do that … I chose to leave the Hell-raising out of it. But … though I try to be good always … quiet and calm … doesn’t mean I’m perfect … I can ‘raise Hell’ with the best of them.
I was … raised to … raise Hell. It’s in me … I keep it hidden … I’m not proud of it. But … it’s there … if I need it. It’s a hidden weapon 🙂 It’s my … super hero action gear … you know how Clark Kent changes to Superman … who would ever suspect him to be Superman! He’s so quiet, unassuming … meek, mild. 🙂 When his strength surfaces … watch out!
I’ve been thinking about being fortunate to be able to walk, move about … talk, see … laugh … drive … to pick up things, write … just all the things I do. She couldn’t just do that in her life … but, she was stronger than anyone I knew. Her mind was strong, sharp as a knife.
Grandma Alma was a good teacher in my young life … though at times, she would scold me, pinch me … once she caused me to fall on a burning-hot heater. She grieved for that after it happened. I never talked about it to anyone … I knew she never meant for that to happen.
Getting back to being … old. For the first time in my life … I am realizing as I begin to … enter the ‘old world’ … I have more battles to face, to win. I didn’t know that! I’m on another new journey in Life … once again I’m on a journey in Life that I don’t know the first thing about … I have to be like a bird and wing it.
My question is … ‘why didn’t I research, learn how to become ‘old’ before it happened to me?’ Why didn’t I do that while I was strong enough … well, I’ve been through a lot to live … focusing on getting well from all kinds of things.
Surgeries, grief … oh, so much grief for the past 16 years as person after person (family) died from crazy-ass things that shouldn’t have happened …. then, my son died from 3 blockages to his heart … I couldn’t think of anything but, pain. We lost all in a fire … Skip was in a tractor-trailer wreck … the list goes on and on. I couldn’t think past the pain.
Which brings me to this moment in time … I got ‘old’ … before I knew it. Oh my God … this is another new journey I’m thrown on in Life … where are the directions? What do I do?
Do I fall on my ass … lay there like a big-ass baby? Feel sorry for my poor ‘old’ self? Be fearful to look around me because ‘now’ I am at my weakest point once again? Hold my head down in shame because … for the first time … I am going to have to go to others and say … ‘please help me, I’m ‘OLD’ … I haven’t fallen and can’t get up … not just yet.’
I did just that two days ago. I asked for help … and for the first time when asking for help … I didn’t hang my head in shame. I smiled, felt hope in my Heart … people responded to it, cared. I just pray now … that help can come.
My only obstacle was at the end of the day when everyone wanted to go home (I understood it was past closing time) … was a young, Spanish girl. She never smiled at Skip and I when she met with us … she was wanting to leave for her home … everyone was excited about the winter storm heading our way. She was one of the last people to get to leave … couldn’t leave until the last client left … which happened to be us.
I truly understood … I also, understood our life was in a crisis with Skip just having a stroke, complete heart blockage … had a pacemaker put in. When I asked her about receiving help for our rent … told her what’s happened … she never batted an eye. It didn’t even phase her how serious our situation was … she never saw the pain we were in … sensed the desperation around us.
She said she couldn’t help us, there weren’t any resources for seniors. I asked her if there weren’t any resources for seniors … where do they all go? Where are all the seniors before us? What happened to them … have they been put in a box, hole somewhere … where are they? I told her quietly that I knew many others have come before us … what happened to them? What did they do?
I needed to know something … a direction to go. I asked her for that … her response was … ‘go to a shelter’. No kindness … no compassion for two broken ‘OLD’ people sitting in front of her … no smile to ease the pain of her words. No feeling but, a blank … uncaring face looking back at us. I think that hurt worse than anything … maybe she could have told us in a more ‘kind’ way. Maybe just pretended for a moment … she cared for our situation.
I knew we didn’t need to waste any more of her time … she wanted to leave, go home. She wasn’t in any mood to listen to us … to give us any advice.
We weren’t anyone to her … she wasn’t seeing us as two people in front of her who needed help … she was seeing us as someone she had to stay for until we left … before she could go home.
I worked with the public for years … I could read her. I also, knew anymore talk was a waste of time … the door had been closed in our face. No matter what I said, did … she would sit there with that closed, blank look on her face that said it all … ‘leave, go home so, I can go home.’
So, we stood up with the little pride we had left … graciously thanked her, left so she could go home. She almost beat us to the parking lot … we’d just opened the doors to get in … there she was … hurrying to her car.
We left in sort of a state of shock … stunned at the Spanish girl telling us we could go to a shelter … she didn’t know where one was at. She let us go out into the darkness … never caring, thinking about us as she pointed the way out.
She never saw the hope she dashed … the fear she put in my Heart … the sickness I felt … Lord knows what Skip felt … he stayed quiet.
She did see how sick he was … she just wanted us to follow her down the long halls to her office, get us out of her hair. She heard his feet stumbled as he walked on the carpet … she never turned to offer help to him.
She let us go out the door never caring where we were going to … she didn’t know if we were going into the woods to live, under a bridge. We were no more than the air around us … you can’t see air. She never felt our … current.
I understand. When people are young … in important jobs … they have no idea until years of experience and making mistakes … of what they sometimes do to the people they had to ‘learn on’. By the time they do … those people have went through their Hell and died. You can’t go back to make anything up.
She’ll never think of us again … I will think of her often for some time. She caused me pain … I never forget people who make me hurt. I forgive them with my Heart … I just can’t forget. I never felt anger at her … I only felt the hopelessness she created in me for that brief encounter with her.
Strange thing is sometimes … something happens and I’m in the position … to cause them pain … since I have a good Heart … you know what I do … I don’t 🙂
I’ve talked about the Spanish girl enough now … hopefully, I can let the memory of her go … the pain at a time I was down … how she made me feel … made a impression on me … a painful one.
Why do I write about all this? Well … how do you learn things if you don’t read. How do you know what’s going on if you don’t read? How do you learn if you ‘are the only one who goes through this or that?’
Well … I want you to know you aren’t alone if you have experienced this, or just before experiencing it. I want you to know this … before you ‘get old before you know it’ … research, have a plan/foundation to follow. Have direction to go in … don’t think ‘I’m never going to get old … I have plenty of time’. No, you don’t.
If your life is anything like mine … so many things happen to distract you … all you do is focus, live what’s at the moment. Then … today comes … you are OLD. If you didn’t have all the wonderful 401K plans, insurances set in place … everything set up for old age … you will be like me.
You can get sick … lose everything … events happen in your life … all those good things can still get gone that you set in place. That happened to us.
No direction to go in … no one willing to offer solid advice … people who have made it to a place to survive aren’t going to tell you anything because it could hurt them.
They will sit, watch you flounder like a fish out of water trying to find a way to survive … if you fall off a cliff, so be it … as long as they are all right. They think you aren’t aware of them as they watch you fall on your face … all the while sitting in comfort. Good for them … bad for you.
When you struggle to survive … you don’t have the money to save back, that’s true. When you have medical conditions on top of it … that adds to your struggle. What do you do? I wish I could tell you, I just don’t know. I’m having to learn … I need solid advice, not just ideas.
I know if I listen, watch closely … it will come to me. Oh … did you think I was going to fall down, not get back up … lay and whine, cry ‘woe is me’? Feel sorry for my OLD ass? Did you think this was the end for me … I would let go of Life so easily now at this point in my life?
Well … you are right! You know me … I have already gotten back up off the ground Life threw me on once again … all the while dusting my ass off … fire in my eyes … strength in my Heart. I have my whole world … Skip and the Pups … to think of. I’m the strongest at this time … I’m going to find the way for us to survive. I will share as much of it as I can to hopefully help you … one day when you get OLD.
I know OLD people still have a whole life ahead … they still think, act, feel young. Like us … we didn’t even know we’d gotten OLD until our bodies let us know. We still aren’t sure if we are OLD, yet. Maybe I will realize it when I’m taking my last sweet breath of Life.
Note by this Author:
Somehow … I became OLD before I knew it … the many distractions of real Life kept me busy, focused on everything else … when my eyes opened to see … you can see what I saw in my mirror … only I looked worse from the grief I had to go through when losing my son.
Photos/article owned, written by me … Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee/@GeeGranny on Twitter.
Life has thrown me on my ass … oh wait a minute … on my OLD ass again! On my OLD ass for the first time! I’m already up … brushing the dirt of failure off it … I’m not going to lay there whining, crying ‘woe is me’ all the while feeling sorry for myself. Hell no! Not!
I am at another ‘lowest point in my life’ … I’m facing it head-on. I might have fear in my Heart … I’m still facing it head-on like I’m the most fearless being in the world. I might die trying … get knocked down again … but, as long as I have the sweet breath of Life in my body … I am crawling if I have to.
I will hold my ground for as long as possible … even if I now have to do something I never had to do … ask for help. When I ask for help … it’s with the thought of my whole world … I will do anything for Skip, and our Pups … they are my whole world. I was the weakest of us … for now, I’m the strongest.
Strange thing is … even when weakest …. I was strongest. Does it remind you of anyone I’ve told you about? Grandma Alma 🙂 The strongest woman I ever knew was paralyzed, and she was my grandma … my childhood hero.