After talking with my sister yesterday, I called my stepmother and confirmed what my sister had said -- my stepmother, at 91, seems to be losing steam.
She recently got a StairMaster -- a mechanical chair that carries its burden to the top of or bottom of a staircase. My stepmother's knees are not all they might be and she chortled like a kid with a Christmas surprise when she told me about the new acquisition. What a luxury! What a hoot!
But her conversational pep was somehow diminished. With my own mother at 98, I know something about the reluctance to expend energy as age advances -- energy to speak, energy to see, energy to hear, energy to think ... it's tiring and, without being sour about it, hardly worth the effort. There was a drifting quality to my stepmother's conversation -- not forgetful, exactly, but not caring a whole lot either. When so much is taken away, there seems to be no assertive choice left other than to relinquish what remains.
With no concrete supporting evidence, it is sometimes hard to see what the hubbub is about death. True, I haven't yet faced it head-on, though I can feel the tires losing air, but when you think about it ... well, has anyone returned from the dead to complain?
The best I can figure with those who are getting older ... well, there is nothing to be done and the best I can try to do is to wish them what they wish. It's not always easy or philosophical or slick, but still, what's left beyond, "Bon voyage!"