By Lydia LaFleur, a member of Get Your Wordsworth
My favorite section of The New York Times these days is the obituaries; it’s the first thing I check every morning. I’m always comforted when I read that the deceased were in their 70s or 80s, because it means I’ve outlived them. About ten years ago, a former co-worker in the library called to ask for further information about a colleague that was listed that day.
She told me she read all the obituaries every day. How ghoulish I thought at the time! I’ve noticed that more people die in their 80s than in any other decade, but the death that rattled me the most recently was that of Mayor Koch. Why he was only two years older than me; it finally sank in that I didn’t have that much time left. True I don’t have heart trouble like he did or any other major disease, and thanks to the eighteen vitamins and supplements I take daily and to yoga and other exercises, I’m healthy except for lack of strength in my walk. But still, one never knows, so I decided that in this new stage of my life, I would enjoy all the time I have left, doing only what gives me pleasure or satisfaction and not accept invitations or take on any assignments unless they do. I’m going to be selfish with my time from now on. Besides there are not that many hours. Thanks to sleeping pills I sleep ten or eleven hours a night and feel wonderful all the next day, but it does eat into my time and what with daily activities of living – exercising, doctors appointments, shopping, emailing, eating there’s not much time left for anything else now that I’ve slowed down physically and mentally, and everything takes longer than it used to. One of my great pleasures is eating (I thank God every night for my taste buds). And it’s become even more so, since I started ordering meals from Fresh Direct. As my friend Rebecca said lately after signing up with Fresh Direct, every night it’s like going to another restaurant. And all the more so with a glass of wine. Another love is reading which I do at dinner, mostly with The New Yorker. Recently I’ve been making time for reading novels, but I have to make a conscious effort to make that time. I no longer have the desire which I once had to go shopping for clothes. I no longer feel the need to act, once a great joy but now not missed. I still enjoy the news about the theater, the reviews of new plays but have no great longing to go unless I have a front row seat and can see the actors‘ facial expressions. I feel vulnerable in crowds so prefer to stay close to home unless I’m with a companion who could come to my rescue if needed. I feel like I’m retreating slowly from life, but I don’t feel badly about this new stage in my life. There is so much still that gives me pleasure. I’m looking forward to saying “I’ve lived to see another Spring.” But first I have to finish doing this year’s income taxes. Maybe after next week, I can resume the joys of living.