I also know that your mind is likely to reach the finish line before your body does.
And I predict that though in your 60's you may have assured your children that you've made financial arrangements to deal with the cost of your long term care and that you fully intend to move into a nursing facility when the time comes, 25 years later when the time actually comes you'll have to be unhappily coerced into leaving your home after a bitter battle with your distressed, stressed-out and guilt-ridden children towards whom you still harbor some resentment for having taken away your car keys.
I've made the I'll-give-up-driving-and-go-to-the-nursing-home-when-my-time-comes speech to my own children, and yet now I wonder: if I last into greatly advanced years will I really behave much differently than most other people who've lasted into greatly advanced years?
Looking forward to that eventuality, I've already apologized in advance to my children for any grief or heartache I may give them when I'm very old. I've given them my permission to take away my car keys and do what they need to do to arrange for my late-life care no matter how I protest. I only hope I don't give them too much trouble.
It seems that a parent who had a harsh or difficult streak when they were younger sometimes becomes doubly, triply, quadruply difficult to deal with when they're old, especially when in the grip of dementia. I've even heard of parents who were good-natured and nice all their lives turning mean when their mind begins making its escape. I hope I don't become that way. But I've likewise asked my children's forgiveness if I ever turn mean to them when my mind is no longer my own.
I know we can't control how we'll be when our personalities have been taken over by dementia, but I do have a vision of how I'd like to be.
Last week I was in Seaford, Delaware visiting my mother, who's currently in a rehab center recovering from a fall (see yesterday's post), The center also has a nursing home section which I passed through every day on my way to my mom's section. Every day by the nurses' station there sat three women next to each other in their wheel chairs, each one holding a new-born baby doll. Two of the three chatted like young mothers in the park, bouncing and cuddling their babies.
But the third always sat quietly and unmoving as a statue, her doll caressed close against her chest, her eyes closed and her lips pressed against the doll's head.
When I saw this woman it hit me that if and when the time comes that my mind has left and settled into a new place, I want it to be the place where this woman is: I want to become a mother giving her baby's head a long loving kiss, breathing in that wonderful newborn smell, frozen in an endless moment of maternal bliss.
There are worse places a mind can be.