A little ache here and there, but nothing broken yet; I’m still standing on my own two legs and have all my original organs intact. That must be some accomplishment—at 82.
There was a time when that age seemed eons away. But born to a line blessed with longevity, I’m not too surprised to have made it in this physical and mental condition.
My eldest uncle, Liling, who was martyred too young, during the war, might otherwise have lived to a ripe old age, as all his brothers. In fact, five of them, my dad included, who went at 92, have lived past the age of 90. Tito Peping was the first to reach 100. Of the surviving three, Pipo will surely make it to 100 next month, and so might Quitos, 92, and Ding, 90. My uncles make a good argument for old age: all of good memory and excellent mind, if a little deaf.
Wear and tear
Look at me—but not too closely. For all the wear and tear, about all I need, for now, are cataract operations. My youngest uncle, Ding, is having his own cataract removal in Australia, where he lives. Only eight years older, I don’t call him “tito,” just Ding. He’s still productive, painting and writing with such energy and dedication that younger men will envy.
If symptoms of hyperacidity, among other more embarrassing ones, persist, I’d probably go for an endoscopy and colonoscopy. That is a dreaded option, in case the once-a-day pantoprazole and Maalox when needed, are not enough to see me to 100. My younger doctors—I’ve outlived most of my doctors’ medical practices—are quite amazed that I’m not on any maintenance medications.
Perhaps I should have been, because my glucose is 103-plus, HbA1c is 5.80. That’s admittedly living on the edge, especially since Mom was a diabetic. In any case, it’s not exactly the kind of excitement I need at this time. Time, indeed, to put on some brakes. So I have to give up some of the things I love, like coffee and chocolates, for at least a month, and see if the sacrifice is worth it. I do have to keep my weight down, anyway.
One of the good aftereffects of having had COVID was losing my passion for food. I now eat to live. For a while, COVID seemed to have cured my acid reflux, too, but I must be close to full recovery, because, like in my pre-COVID days, it’s back with a vengeance. Physically and mentally, I’m showing some signs of deterioration, but nothing surprising at my age.
What I need most at this time is to come to terms with life with a sense of gratitude, not of regret or of loss. So, with grateful heart and wizened eyes, let me look closely at the cards I’ve been dealt in this lifetime, and play them as best I can. For good reason, which only He knows, I’m expected to win with these cards. Maybe the right word is not win but triumph. In that sense, I may have already beat the odds: I’m still in the game, after all.
At this point, I ask myself if there’s anything I’d have done differently, knowing what I know now. Would I have taken a different path for a better place, for less pain and hardship?
I’m happy to note that from this vantage point I can no longer distinguish pain from happiness, joy from hardship; the people who have dealt me the most pain have also brought me my greatest joy. I look at my life whole now, not in parts, and most certainly not divided between good and bad times. There are no such distinctions anymore from this distance, only cycles, like the seasons in a year.
Although I have no regrets, I know I could have been a better daughter, a better sister, a better wife and mother, a better friend, all in all a better person. Alas, there are no second chances for some of those roles—the test papers have been submitted but the grades don’t come until the fat lady sings, I guess.
In this last quarter of the game, life’s mysteries continue to intrigue me. You’re supposed to reap what you sow, but my harvest tends to show God to be much, much kinder.