This is a recent experience I had in a doctor’s office. (not for the first time)
Nurse: Approaching quietly and whispering in my ear: “Mrs. Rosen, I think you made a mistake on your intake papers. You wrote, DOB as being 1927, and I think you might want to correct it.”
Well, of course, I’d like to correct it. But, Lady. “It is what it is.”
Such was the initiation of my transitional thinking. Here I am, happily living alone, in the Sunshine State, in a totally Emily-functional 2 bedroom rental apartment no more than 15 driving-during-the-day minutes from everything I could ever need, including beaches, parks, birds, food emporia and people, as well as zoom quality of whatever fill-ins I might crave, and—a memory bank of travel and life experiences that could stuff several book shelves of memoirs. (yet to come) I am especially grateful for volunteer activities to balance my lucky life, and the real bonus is relatively good health, an even temperament and a worship of mirth.
So what’s the problem? I refer you to paragraph two – no “no mistake.” The “only” thing missing, is “family.” My remaining progeny live in Charlotte, N.C. and actuarial tables tease me with statistics. My friends, and I am so fortunate to have many who are much younger than I, assure me of their intention to “be there” for any emergency needs I might require.
Friends are great – but they all have their own lives and I am an integral part of the lives of my long-distance family. And with the big birthday pending, I made the wrenching decision to pack it all up, and flee to Charlotte, this with the total support, as well as hard to disguise, incredulity of “the family.” Not an inconsequential move, but one entered with much thoughtfulness and consideration of the strains of long distance negotiations during end of life events.
I started the personal clean up, went so far as collecting estimates from movers, made notes on what to take, what to dispose of as largesse, what to sell, donate, and/or ditch, and became somewhat paralyzed when I tried to organize my bottomless collection of writings. I stopped long enough to plan a trip to Charlotte to choose a new domicile, successfully returning with an empowered determination to “do the deed.”
And then — I woke up one morning just days after that visit, to the TV punditry of the Ukrainian disaster. Immediately, my 12 year old self popped into my vision on a September day in 1939 when my Grandma took me on a subway treat from Brooklyn to visit a museum in the Bronx. As we exited the building onto long descending concrete steps, we could hear newspaper vendors hawking the news of the day in tones of urgency: “Hitler Invades Poland. Get your papers here. Read all about it.”
“What’s Poland, Grandma” I asked. And she sat me down on one of the myriad of steps, rustled thru the contents of her pocketbook and retrieved a picture of a little girl surrounded by a pastoral setting, and pointed to the picture with a sadness I’ll never forget. “That’s Poland,” she said simply. Throughout the subsequent Holocaust years and beyond, that memory stings with the authenticity of fearsome beginnings.
As it does now. And that was the moment my plans dissipated.
Much as I long to be with my family, the specter of an indefinite volatile economy suddenly struck me with panic. The uncertainty of all the social, economic and emotional fallout from the daily horrors we are seeing in virtual reality time, have played havoc with my fantasy of a major life style uprooting. The idea of dismantling my life while I am still in control of it, lost its glamour. I decided to play “Russian Roulette,” despite its unsavory appellation.
I feel the uneasy shaking of the walls of our planet as the apocalypse continues to rumble towards its unthinkable destination. I acknowledge the relative ant-like quality of my existence and continue to question the purpose of the genetic inclusion of evil, in greater and lesser degrees, into the DNA of the human species.
The senseless destruction – the stupid need for military buildup, the wasteful shelling out of enormous sums of money – so needed for other purposes — the inanity of the fact that such cataclysmic caution is considered to be normal for the preservation of nations, is overwhelmingly grotesque to my simple ant-like mind.
Yes, I will “stay put” for now and work on getting my glass to its half full status as it was back when I remembered that evil gets defeated in the l-o-n-g run. And if the “long-run” has a reasonably short shelf life, Charlotte, here I come