I went to visit Aunt Vi this afternoon. She’s 99 and able to live in her own apartment with a little help doing the cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping. She hasn’t been outside for anything other than doctor appointments for a good long while and she’s getting a bit of cabin fever. She has her bird Buddy as company; we tried to get him to come out and play so that I could get a picture of him on her shoulder but he wasn’t having anything to do with me. I guess he’s camera shy.
We talked a lot about the old days, the early years of her marriage and stories of when she worked at the local hospital. She remembered getting off work late at night after a snow storm and not being able to find her car in the parking lot. I guess in those days there was no such thing as a remote start. We laughed about her having to dig through the snow with her hands to open the truck and retrieve the shovel so she could dig herself out of the parking lot. She shook her head in wonder at the things she used to do when she was younger.
I shook my head in wonder too.
She was having a good day, so she showed me the exercises she does every day to stay loose. Standing up and hanging onto her walker she did knee lifts. Twenty on each side. I told her I wanted to take her picture doing those and she laughed and sat down. Then she made me do them. I was not as graceful and luckily there are no pictures of that either. I did manage to get a couple of her using her stretchy bands. She works her legs….
…and her arms every day.
I realized she’s doing more exercise than I am, even though I’m the one carrying the Fitbit in my pocket. I feel guilty.
I’ve often wondered what a 99 year old thinks about as she sits in her apartment watching the world go by day after day. Turns out she thinks a lot about the old days, her son, her sisters and brothers, her parents. The same things we think about when we take the time to sit down and reflect. She says she doesn’t plan anything out in the future, she just enjoys today. I said that was a lesson for all of us to learn – to just enjoy today.
She says she’s tired and frustrated that her body doesn’t work the way it used to. She’s not used to accepting help and it still bugs her that she has to. But she’s grateful to be living on her own in her apartment, and she’s happy that she has friends and family that visit. Still, she knows there’s not much to look forward to and sometimes she gets pensive. She’s had a hard but good life filled with family and love and laughter, but there are only two of her original siblings left now. She’s said so many goodbyes.
I wonder what I will remember most when I’m 99 and looking back. I wonder what will be the most important accomplishments, the favorite memories, the things I will laugh about, what stories I will tell. I wonder if I will be able to carry 99 as well as she does. I don’t know, she’s set the bar pretty high. I had a good visit with her this afternoon. We’re lucky she’s still around to tell the family stories. And if she keeps on exercising she just might be around to tell us about the good old days for years to come.
I certainly hope so.