Astroturf on a Pile of Dirt
I’ve been thinking about my mortality a lot lately. Why? A handful of reasons, really. Permit me to ramble (I hope the kids are napping, 'cause this is a long one) and forgive my hasty editing. Chronological age has a bit to do with this. Hitting those big decade markers can be a nasty eye opener (an eye with growing crow’s feet in my case). I recently hit one of said markers, so there’s that. Which one? Well, when I drive through the university campus near my house I’ve got a good ten years on most of the Uggbercrombie and Floss wearing co-eds. They’re lucky I am so infatuated with my new(ish) guilt-mobile that I don’t imbed their jay-walking-while-spaced-out iPod/cell phone laden young bodies into my grill. They likely wouldn’t even really smoosh into it softly - their youthful tabernacles are still firm enough that they’d likely really leave a mark. Speaking of marks… I gave birth for the first time last year. I know, I know, if you took the time to do the math your equation would yield thusly: 1 thirty year old mormon woman married >5 years just now giving birth = freak of nature hell child. Well, you don’t have to remind me. I see and feel it every week at church when I see what I assume is a Laurel or even Mia Maid lugging a baby or two and I think “Oh how nice, she’s helping a mom” and then she heads into the mother’s lounge fumbling with her blouse. Yeah. I get it. I’m late to the party. What I don’t get is how I can be SO late to the party when I was using my Holly Hobbie Easy Bake Oven, playing Bionic Woman and Evil Knievel, and being mesmerized by a lite brite only yesterday. If you have young children and you have no idea who the Bionic Woman was then it is you to whom I refer when I speak of the Mia Mommy/Lactating Laurel at church. You are beautiful, you are the picture of righteousness, and you are a stereotype. Yes, you will be sending your child on a mission before you are menopausal. You and your husband will have heirs in the kingdom yea even a third generation before you even qualify for social security. You have the energy to home school and lactate without end. You have many miles left in your maternity wardrobe (size 4) and you somehow manage to smile through it all. You may even have the moxie to wear a bathing suit in public ‘cause um stretch marks? – nu-uh. Oh to have the breasts and energy of a twenty year old. I am so tired. Sick and tired. And sick. Ahhhh sickness. Nothing smacks of the finality of it all like being conscious of your own deterioration and disease. I’ve been sick on and off for upwards of 15 years. Come to think of it, the 15th anniversary of my first major bout of illness is this weekend (perhaps I should have a cupcake!). You name it I’ve sampled it. Chronic? Check. Accute? Check. Life threatening? Yup. Nothing like years and years of doctors and diagnoses and theories and tests and surgery and drugs and ER’s and clinics and scans and probes and co-pays and appeals and Bring the Lady her Acronyms Honey and the office staffs of Drs. Oops & Dope. I have an extra special place in my heart for Dr. Incompetent. Unlike Heather O with her Dr. Ugly Teeth I have absolutely no problem naming a name with my Dr. Incompetent: DR. HARVEY SWAN I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU. I’m sick of being sick. I’m sick of having to think about living wills and advanced directives and whether or not I need to be thinking about my astoundingly sympathetic husband remarrying and what I should do in the way of making sure my son knows who his mother was (hello? past tense?). No, I’m not currently dying so relax with the oh goodness whatserbucket can I bring you a meal. Just promise me you’ll be vigilant about staying on top of your health and we’ll call it even. So they say they think they “got it all” but still – I have to go back every 2-3 months for several more years to get checked and after that every 6 months for the rest of my life. That I even have to consider all of those end-of-life things right now and plan vacations around cancer screenings – sucks. Sucking. If I didn’t sufficiently allude to it above, breastfeeding sure does a number to those melons, doesn’t it? The sisters have never been so low. When I was a kid and I’d sneak peaks into the nudie pages of National Geographic I always wondered why those ladies in Africa had breasts like that. They looked like the orange in the toe of my Christmas stocking or like a deflated banana. I thought, “hmmm boobies in Africa sure look different than boobies here”. What I didn’t realize was that boobies here are hoisted stuffed tucked and supported in ways that are comparable to the engineering feats supporting the world’s largest and longest suspension bridges. Having perky, erect bosoms after lactating is about as natural as Joan Rivers’ face. Maybe some of you managed to lactate without qualifying yourselves for the “tribal” category in the Breasts of the World edition of National Geographic, but my ladies are there. And how. Their tour of duty was epic (baby sucking, baby biting, mastitis, plugged ducts, hot and cold compresses, cabbage leaves, lactation consultant visits, lanolin, saline soaks, nipple shields, nipple guards, fancy-ass bras and nipple nappies, machinery nozzles – the works) and it shows. The decay of youth is ever evident right here on my chest. I am daily reminded of decay. To get nearly anywhere I need to go, I have to drive past a cemetery. It’s kind of an old one, too. I looked it up, and its first interment was in 1845. There are more than 124,000 folks pushing up daisies in the 300 acres down the street from where I sit. They were all young once. They were all someone’s baby. Plenty of them never even got to be old, let alone complain about it. As the seasons pass some of the graves get attention. This can be in the form of various floral deposits both natural and plastic, flags, or mementos. One grave got a little fence of candy canes and a Christmas train display with gingerbread people around it this year. The thought of the life remembered within that makeshift shrine and the likelihood that it is that of a child haunts me. Compared to a lot of those folks in the cemetery I am already old. So what constitutes old anyway? I wonder if I will get to be the kind of old where you are all gray and wrinkly and use a cane and have a lot of knitted things in your house. I mean health and stuff notwithstanding, I could get hit by a bus in the morning and POOF! No knitted stuff, no cane. What will be of my life when I go? Is somebody going to feel bad for me if I don’t get fake mums on my headstone on mother’s day? I suppose I really ought to thank my lucky stars and garters (and girdles and support bras and wrinkle cream and fiber supplements) that I’ve gotten to be on this crazy ride as long as I have. Fact is… I’M NOT DEAD YET! I just feel like it some days. Sigh. Thanks for listening.