The one thing that never dies

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By Kirsten Laskey

When I was a kid, growing older seemed to be the best thing that could ever occur. At some point, however, this attitude changed. I now respond to aging with a mixed bag of emotions.

Sure, you are given certain privileges such as a driver’s license and entry into R-rated movies, but there seem to be more aches and pains as you grow older.  

During a recent trip to visit my grandparents in Boca Raton, Fla., I learned the scales shift back and forth between the pros and cons as you progress further and further in life.  

When my parents and I arrived at the hotel, I received an unexpected, but still pleasant, surprise for my getting up there in years – my own hotel room.

For years whenever I visited my grandparents, I slept on their couch.

My grandparents’ early bed-time meant I had to tip-toe around their condo and when I was finally ready to sleep, I fumbled around the living room searching for light switches to turn off lamps and sconces that my grandparents typically let burn 24 hours a day.  

Plus, I was always given the same set of sheets to use – pale blue, lace-trimmed silk sheets that stuck to me like plastic wrap while also twisting into a tangled knot on the sofa’s seat cushions.

So walking into my own hotel room that was refreshingly chilled from the air conditioning, it felt great to be an adult.  

Unfortunately, as I’ve gotten older, my grandparents have too.  

My grandfather relies on a cane when he leaves his home to run errands and his walk is interrupted by short pauses  to combat dizzy spells.  

Old age has been harder on my grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

Her good spirits remain in tact, but she struggles to speak and her mind seems to flicker on and off.

I lay awake one night while in Florida thinking how life is cruel – it makes you watch those you love become feeble; and even worse, you may be forced to merely observe as they fade away.

It’s not easy hearing my grandfather discuss funeral arrangements and burial plots.

During the recent visit, I stomped off when he started talking about the Neptune Society, some sort of organization that handles all the business details when a family member dies.

I fumed in the kitchen, wishing the Neptune Society was the one that would go swim with the fishes.  

There is an upside, though.  

My grandmother may struggle with her words and blink in and out of consciousness, but she still leans forward to kiss her husband.

She will still nudge her chair over to sit closer to my grandfather.  My grandfather may be weaker but he will still ask, “how’s my girl?” when he enters the room and jokingly demand that my grandmother stay out of trouble when he leaves her with my mom and me to run an errand.  On the final day of our trip, I discovered that life is kind enough to offer at least one thing that never ages or fades away – love.