This is a picture of my lawn mower. This is a picture of my lawn mower not moving an inch because I couldn’t get it started. This is a picture of where my lawn mower will now sit until my son comes and starts it. This is a moment when I see ever more clearly the price of my independence.
I have been married most of my adult life having started at 20, finishing up around 48. I live alone now which is fine but it is a constant struggle. I hate that. I see more and more my mothers horror of having to spend long days dealing with an illness alone in her house. It is hard being sick and alone. I think of all the years my Grandmother lived alone. Really alone. I can’t believe I left my Grandma alone. She lived in a city none of us did and my brother and I lived many states away. Now as I age living alone in my house, I feel her reality come into view. From the difficulties of getting groceries to the house from the car with 3 feet of snow in front of the garage door, to lawns that need mowers to start, damn it! Sometimes it’s just simply needing a light bulb changed, or help unscrewing a screw left unscrewed, way to long. It sucks to live alone.
This isn’t a I need a husband, a wife would do, a strong do it your self-er, the point is, we all need another body to help us out from time to time and sometimes its no more than holding your hair back when you’re puking your guts out, or being soothed when you come screaming awake from a bad dream. We need others in our lives who can bring us soup we can’t get out of bed and encourage us when we won’t. Why do we make ourselves or our loved ones live alone?
I think more and more of what controlled agriculture has done to us. As our food supply stabilized and we could buy what we want rather than toil for what we need, we somehow lost sight of what was important and became more excited about having fun. No more worry for the future and a passivity moved into us that kept us from eyeing the future. Televisions became babysitters and microwaves cooked dinner. Family members began hanging with peers and the ease of our lives made chillin an option for our young. We have strayed far away from the idea of family and community. Today more and more money is king. So nursing homes take care of our dying folks, who wants that stupid job anyway…and friends are better family members than family members.
And now I find myself living alone, mightily aware of how hard it would be if I didn’t have my son nearby to start my mower when it won’t, and my daughter close enough to take me to the hospital when my migraines super nova. They do these things for me gladly again that’s not the point, these needs puts me at someone’s mercy. I don’t like it at all but it’s a reality and as a family if I continue to live alone I know we will handle it, I am blessed in this way. But I feel for those who aren’t or weren’t, like my Grandma.
If we had decided to stay in tribes and working communities this wouldn’t be an issue. Cultural models of how to deal with the young, aging and sick would already be in place and not a multi-billion dollar industry worried for its bottom line rather than the care of those we have entrusted to them or sometimes left for them to deal with. We are making mistakes and missing opportunities for our growth as humans. We are losing the idea that we are in fact our mother fathers, brother sisters keeper. Think on anyone older you know who lives alone without family nearby and wonder how they get their lawn done, the car out of the garage with a flat, make it to appointments when horribly ill, or groceries to the house, and broken things fixed. Of course money makes everything easier and sometimes friends but is it awesome to have to constantly rely on strangers to do tasks you did for yourself when younger or tended to for others when older. Who tends to us now and why does it cost so damn much?
It’s hard to look in the yard and see that stupid mower sitting there, dead. The guys who delivered my new chair drove up as I was trying to start it and then walked right passed it, ugg! I am in hopes something comes to me before I get completely unable to do for myself. Of course this is why I stay on top of my physical yoga routine to support my body and meditation for my mind but, sickness comes, headaches stay and accidents happen. And right now I just wanted to mow my grass but can’t. Plus I have furniture in the basement I can’t move by myself, boxes to mail I have to carry to the car and then to the store, small things like that. But enough…therefore by the grace of God go I, at least my kids are still around to help.
It’s a high price to have my independence.