Thursday, January 01, 2015

Aging naturally, not skinny, doing great


Is there CrossFit for cats?
How was your 2014? Was it a good year? How do you determine whether a given year is good or bad if nothing spectacularly good or bad happens? Is a good year simply one where nothing bad happens? I made myself think back over 2014, season by season, and my general sense is that it was a lovely year. Not a year full of accomplishment, but a really good one. 

I seem to have skipped right over the month of December on this blog -- the holiday parties, storms, Wild, the terrific Ottolenghi spinach salad with pita, dates, and almonds, the Christmas gifts of the Dominique Ansel, Tartine Bar, and Portlandia cookbooks, as well as the moment when an old friend who hadn’t seen me in a while said I was “aging really naturally and nicely.” Definitely a compliment, but one that required a moment to process. 

Having chirped about the goodness of 2014, I will now report that December was a strange, heavy month during which I gave little thought to cooking and cookbooks. Isabel was applying to colleges and it stirred up a surprising amount of emotion. I haven’t been so preoccupied with her well-being since she was a newborn, nor so acutely aware of my love for her. I wake at 4 every morning worrying about her. I didn't expect this. Parents of younger children, you've been warned.

The other reason December felt heavy was that my grandmother has been fading. Owen and I drove down to Palo Alto yesterday planning to visit for a couple of hours then waltz off to see Top Five. But our New Year’s Eve didn't unfold as planned. My grandmother struggled to find the breath to greet us and a few minutes later, taking microscopic steps, oxygen tube trailing, pushed her walker over to her blue armchair in the living room where she settled herself, shut her eyes, and couldn’t be roused for the next six hours. Nudging her, talking loudly, nothing evoked any response whatsoever. My aunt Stephanie and I stared at each other. She telephoned the nurse, who never appeared. We sat. We talked. Hours passed. Stephanie put a log on the fire. We ordered Chinese food, lit the Christmas tree, and Owen helped Stephanie sign up for Facebook. It felt like a vigil, cozy, companionable, and sad. Lord knows I wish my grandmother could live forever, but this wouldn’t be a bad way to go, I thought, twenty-eight days shy of her 103rd birthday, dozing in her favorite chair with the Christmas tree lit as a daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandson talked in the background.

Ah, but no. The call of nature. Suddenly she was wide awake and ornery and toddled slowly off to the ladies room and then to the kitchen where she consumed a good deal of beef chow fun, Trader Joe’s cheese puffs, refried black beans sprinkled with sugar (?), and pineapple soda. “Lazarus!” my aunt said. It really was uncanny. At one point my grandmother assessed me and said, “You are skinny. No, not skinny. You are just good.” 

Classic. It would have been amazing if those were the last words she ever spoke to me, but we didn’t leave right then and I may well talk to her again anyway, so there goes that story.

I have a bunch of 2015 resolutions, but other than launching Isabel smoothly into the world, the one I really care about involves writing more and better and regularly, both on this blog and elsewhere. So: a little more accomplishment in 2015, keep the happiness level steady. As of noon on New Year’s Day, so far, so good.

I wish you all a joyful day and year. 

35 comments:

  1. Caroline in San Francisco1/1/15, 2:39 PM

    Thank you. Your writing is always lovely and so warming to read. Happy new year!

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  2. What a treat for January 1st. Happy New Year, Jennifer. What did you think of Wild? I couldn't help getting pulled into its world...I enjoyed it a lot more than I probably should have. Sorry to hear about your grandmother. I think her skinny comment shows she's still going strong. And speaking of skinny, that cat should probably read a different cookbook, right?

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    Replies
    1. Oh yeah, Jerry has some serious eating problems.
      I really liked Wild. Cried, of course, and like you was pulled in. I preferred the movie to the book.

      Delete
  3. It's so impressive that your grandmother is almost 103. She holds me in thrall a little. I thought my Nammy was pretty old at 91. I know you will hold her dear, and I hope you won't feel too sad or unmoored when she does die. I hope we al live so long, with health and sanity.

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    Replies
    1. Ninety-one is pretty great. I'd be happy with 91!

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  4. My stepson's grandmother lived to 103, just died this past year. She was a happy person, and then she just popped off. The greatest gift, living a long, happy life, then popping off, yeah? The six hour power nap is a great story! Maybe that is her secret. My year has started off well - a post from you! Happy New Year, Jennifer!

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  5. Happy new year to you and yours! I love reading your blog, it's such a joy. Your grandmother sounds incredible. Our daughter will also be in college next year and I'm having some trouble dealing with the idea of the transition, so I can only imagine the transition itself will be incredibly smooth, right? Right!?!

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    Replies
    1. We are in the same boat. I don't know, will the transition be smooth? Or will we be weeping all fall? I wish I could freeze time.

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  6. So glad to hear from you! Jennifer, you sure have some adorable critters! I think Isobel will do just fine--ask her to stay in touch and that she can count on your being there for her whenever. Your strong sense of family is a gift that will help her throughout her life. Wishing you all the best for 2015!

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  7. I was moved by this post. Feel a part of your life somehow after following for years. Thanks for the glimpses into your life, which is one well lived.

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  8. Of course Isobel will be just fine, but it's the hole she'll leave when she goes that has you lying awake in dread!

    Have a wonderful new year. Thank you for your resolution to post more often -- I'm sure I speak for everyone when i say we were thrilled to hear that.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, she'll be fine. I just wish I knew where she was going. I just wish I'd had 6 more children so more one or less wouldn't make such a difference.
      Am I kidding? I'm not sure.

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  9. Thank you for posting. Yours is the only blog I read regularly, and while you are entitled to your own life, I was concerned that your family might have been carried away in a mud slide.Wishing you all a happy new year.

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    Replies
    1. We almost were! I need to post the picture of the river that ran down our street for a day or two.

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  10. I loved to read your article.I think that crossfit might be available for cats as its nothing but a physical exercise.So why cats can't do it!I wanna suggest you to bring best cross training shoes for your cat while getting training.

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