How old Do you Feel?

From a letter to a friend

From a letter to a frien

I have to laugh ****** – you ARE so young!  And if you feel like you are in your thirties I have found this truth: you are.

Bill was 45 when we married and he was not my first husband. He was more lively, open for anything and ready to turn on a dime at my slightest whim – he was the youngest man I had ever been with!  I was 30! I was finishing my degree – and he was finishing his second MA! We had so much fun.  I had just published a poetry journal that was picked up by the Know Theater Tribe in Cincinnati and was then performed at the Ensemble Theater as well as every major book store in the area. 

He was widowed in his early 30s and had a 5 and 8 year old to raise. He had been alone for 10 years going to full time university, working one full time job on second shift, temping as a teacher during the day and teaching on Saturday at a prestigious German academy! That boy was a firecracker and I had a rich social life with regular outings with my friends. Bill stepped right in and we went all over the city.

We loved the jazz, poetry mike nites and were out several days a week. A*** was 14 when we met and he loved me but wanted Bill all to himself. I fixed that by taking A*** out with us to everything we could. He was even allowed in our favorite weekly pub since we knew the owners.  He had a blast and advertised it to all his school friends.  We ended up home schooling him the last two years of high school since we were qualified and he did enrichment classes with the local art constituency.  It was truly a different time (90s) like a rebirth of downtown. We pre-dated the breweries by a few years and there were art galleries, internet cafes (do you remember that? It was brand new!).  We dealt with a lot too.  I had a stroke at 30 but I was back at university within 4 days.  I used a cane and had trouble with names of things.

At times Bill got a kick out of the things I would say. We were out in Temeculah CA (we went there summers since I’m from there and have relations) doing a wine tour.  This was new in that part of S.CA in what was deemed a desert at the time.  We were driving up this winding drive with monster azalea bushes, pomegranate trees and of course the vineyards.  I remarked on the beauty of the WINE BUSHES!  He never forgets that one!  It was my brain switching descriptives. I have to try NOT to say it now.

We also loved our home life. I was working on my own things and Bill worked at P&G by then and we would have a nap when he came home until 5 or so.  We watched great chefs of the world and then Leave it to Beaver.  We were learning how to work all types of crossword puzzles and would take turns on the same one. I became a governess for gifted children and Bill retired at 55 due to P&G basically cutting out anyone over 55. So, he took up translating technical documents for German companies and tutoring one summer. I took my charges to Latin tutors so Bill was there and my employer family knew him so I invited him to come along!  So here we worked together and had a rich social life. I remember riding across Victory Parkway one day looking out at a park on the way to work and I thought, ” I can’t imagine anything I want. I am completely content.”

 I has struggled for this happiness through lots of depression and recovery from childhood physical and sexual abuse. That fueled my creative writing and I had reached the other side finally.  It was a year later that I lost the front of my body from a surgical mistake. My happiness and love of everyone in my life gave me the mindset that I would simply get better and return to my world.

Not one surgeon or specialist expected me to live. They told me regularly to prepare me. Finally after about three weeks I yelled at one to stop saying that!  He ran out! haha!  He sent his partner after that! After a month they came in and said, Well, we no longer think you are in danger of imminent death. We don’t guarantee anything but somehow you have survived this long and may have as much as 5 to 10 years left. That was 17 years ago. 

I went back to work after a year but they had only covered my organs with a thin skin graft. The organs took about 4 years to basically end up laying on my lap.  I was told again I was terminal.  That was 2009.  When my bowel showed up outside my body – I had to go to the hospital.  A lot of time had passed and there was no liability attached to killing a terminal person trying to help them.

They gave me a 25% chance of survival and pushed all of my organs back on top of me (my lungs had descended so that is why I have difficulty breathing now) and it looked like someone had stuffed a suitcase full and sat on it to close it! That recovery was horrific. I put in a DNR so I almost died the first day and when I became delirious my sister jumped in a allowed them to help me. I had a bipap on and that was what saved my life! haha! can you imagine? I couldn’t get my C02 out so it was killing me.  That’s why I use O2  24/7.  

I am proud of my life – and love my family so much.  I was thinking today after I wrote to you how ready I was and prepared to die before.  My husband was younger and I didn’t worry about him. It’s now I worry for him.  He means more to me than my own life and I think that’s why I feel so afraid lately.  Never use a number to age yourself K*****. You are what you feel and what you do with your life.

As far as I see you are a vibrant young woman full of promise.  Keep that inside. I feel young even now. It is only fear for others that I worry.  I have pain, and I have challenges but when I can listen to my favorite music lying on my bed – I can feel ageless. Even though I have a christian background I am not traditional and never took religious imagery as reality so I don’t know what is beyond but I will find out when I get there right?

It’s the next adventure – like a baby being born who has no idea about the outside world while he’s living inside his mother.  I look at this life the same way. Thank you for your kindness and compassion K*****. That is worth more than you know. Lisa