Getting Older

December 9, 2015 at 5:45 pm | Posted in Aging, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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A while ago—twenty years or so, I’d say—a number of liberal Protestant church leaders from the New York area, their spouses and families, owned summer homes in a town up in Maine. Dibbie and Bill Webber, Dodie and George Younger were two such couples. At a certain point, they began a discussion group called “We Are All Growing Older.”

Having such group struck me as wise. And I certainly didn’t disagree with the thesis. Of course, we’re all getting older.

On the other hand, my admiration and agreement were, I now realize, a bit theoretical. We’re all getting  older, but not yet, God willing.

Beginning in April of 2014 I began rethinking this. As I described it some months later, that was when Keith, my husband, began a year of serious illnesses, punctuated by the death of his mother. After pneumonia, surgery for two unrelated forms of cancer, plantar fasciitis in both his feet, burying his mother, and a stress fracture in his ankle, things calmed down a bit, but not enough to allow me to slide back into my prior sense of immortality.

Just lately we seem to be having round two, though on a much smaller scale. More than a year ago I began experiencing tingling—what we called “pins and needle” back in the day—in my hands and feet. The somewhat worthless internist I consulted was in a hurry and pooh-poohed it. A year later, when it hadn’t gone away, I consulted a new doctor, who sent me to a neurologist, who did a whole long string of tests–poking, sticking, mild electrocution. Then he said, “Well, the tingling in your hands is a sign of essential tremor and carpal tunnel syndrome; the tingling in your feet is caused, I believe, by a lower back problem.” He ordered an MRI to explore the latter.

It all seemed a little much—three diagnoses in one day. Then, the following week, one of my molars got an infection and our splendid dentist announced that I had to have it and the guy next to it out and replace them with implants. Yesterday the extractions occurred and I got three slots drilled into the bone underneath the former teeth in preparation for the implants. At the same time I have been doing carpal tunnel exercises everyday, wearing carpal tunnel splints to bed at night, and going to physical therapy for my back.

I will spare you the whining and lamenting. A lot of the people out here in the middle of Brooklyn couldn’t begin to afford the implants I’m getting. And when I’m at the physical therapy office, a number of patients come in all twisted up with arthritis, or needing a walker to walk, or otherwise in pain. And we discovered the carpal tunnel early, so I’m not likely to need surgery. Here, as at other times, being the oldest child of an Irish working-class family is a big help: just shut up and do the assignment, as the grown-ups used to say.

But I do think I’m going to postpone finishing Timothy Snyder’s Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Memory for a few days. Instead, maybe I’ll just binge-watch Orange is the New Black”!










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  1. Delightful…just delightful. I cherish reading your thoughts on this blog. (I think that is what this is!) Aging is a task to be lived with,explored and shared.Keep doing that.I’ll go for it…and tell my latest tale after I get our Christmas cards underway.!!!!
    Lots of love,


  2. Marion, I like your thoughts on aging. As you know I am experiencing the process right now. I could write a book….I am happy to hear that you are working at your physical “episodes” , as I call them, I am always surprised when mine “get better”…and am used to the idea that it just takes a little longer these days…but it does make one appreciate the “good” days. love, Veronica


  3. Dear Marian,

    Well, I am sorry to hear about all your aches and pains. You had told me something about them in an earlier email, but I wasn’t fully aware. Years ago I had a bit of carpal tunnel, but that’s when I was a knitting maniac, so when I let up on the knitting the problem went away.

    About our visit in Boston, the Early Music folks announced a concert by William Christie and Les Arts Florissants at the end of April. Would that be a possible time for you? Of course there’s no hurry right now to decide.

    Hope you feel better soon. Love, Francine



  4. My gosh, Marian, that is too much medical stuff going on!! Bless for your body and do enjoy doing ONLY the enjoyable things for a few weeks. XOXO

    From: Marian Ronan <> Reply-To: Marian Ronan <> Date: Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 4:45 PM To: Julie Byrne <> Subject: [New post] Getting Older

    Marian Ronan posted: ” A while ago—twenty years or so, I’d say—a number of liberal Protestant church leaders from the New York area, their spouses and families, owned summer homes in a town up in Maine. Dibbie and Bill Webber, Dodie and George Younger were two such “


  5. Dear Marian and Keith, what a litany of hurts. Yes, just putting up with it is necessary, but I wonder if there isn’t also the need for the project you mentioned at the opening–what does getting older (for all of us) mean spiritually. Where is the resurrection hope when our bodies (or our communities) are falling apart? Wish we could have coffee and a good chat soon. I”m thinking of you both. Love, Kirsten


  6. “Old is not spelled b-a-d!” is a favorite saying of my dear friend of 60 years, Mary M. Morgan, who lived until this past year. I think it’s an important distinction. We don’t want a self-fulfilling prophesy of disasters for our elder years. Illnesses may come, but not necessarily due to aging–other causes are in evidence. My mother lived to be 94; her daily morning refrain was a quotation from one of the psalms: “This is the day that the Lord has made! We will rejoice and be glad in it.” I’ve taken up this practice.

    I’m not preaching you a sermon, dear Marian–I wouldn’t be so stupid, I hope. I wish you well, and you and your husband are in my prayers. Love, Ellen


  7. I finished rereading Angela’s Ashes today, that is a lesson in counting your blessings, too. Love your writing just as much as his! Thank you! If you want to have an actual meeting, I would love to join such a group with you. take care, Margaret


  8. I belong to a group called “positive aging” and one of the founders just gave us a video from public tv (WHYY) intended as a discussion starter. It’s called “Conversations on the journey” and while we create our own topics monthly in person, this looks interesting. No need for you to have a discussion starter, Marian. Love, Regina


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