Lately I've lapsed back into my preoccupation with what will happen to me when I'm old. The other day, in the midst of a conversation that had nothing to do with either of us, I pointed out to My Beloved that he and I will likely end up in nursing homes at an earlier age than my parents will because we have no one to look after us.
It popped out of my mouth and crashed to the floor of our family room like a lead weight. The hard, real truth of the statement literally drowned out all other sound for a few moments as it clattered around, coming to rest right between us.
And we just sat and stared at each other, unblinking, until My Beloved made a joke (implying that I would be headed to Shady Acres long before him), and balance was restored.
'Cause that's what we do. We speak of big, scary, grown-up things and then immediately use jokes as brain bleach to wash those recklessly flung words away.
But in all seriousness, I really believe that my mom and dad would be in a nursing home right now were it not for my sister and me. We do what we do because we adore them, of course, but the fact remains that we are the reason they are still able to stay in their house. We drive, cook, clean, advocate, listen, soothe, support and entertain. They have us to rely on - and they always will.
My Beloved and I, on the other hand, have cats. Not quite as useful to the elderly, really.
Anyway, all this has been rolling about in my head again lately. And it reminded me of last Christmas Eve at my in-laws when, to my surprise and delight, a bottle of white wine appeared on the dinner table before me.
Wine. WINE! This never happens at their place. Like, ever. The drinkers, not surprisingly, are on my side of the family.
I waited an appropriate amount of time before grabbing the blessed bottle by the neck and strangling out a glass of liquid holiday Valium. And then another. And maybe a third, I can't remember.
I do remember I was tipsy by the time dessert rolled around. And the only one in the room who was, since the bottle of wine and I were apparently having an exclusive relationship that night.
And that's how I found myself slightly drunk on my mother-in-law's couch on Christmas Eve, begging my 10-year old niece to promise she'd visit me in the home.
Not really my proudest moment.
Fortunately she merely looked at me with a little grin - like I was a silly old aunt meant to be giggled at - and slyly told me that she would come visit me when I'm old as long as I continue to have my Christmas cookie party every year.
I realize I'm only 40, and that with luck (and perhaps more exercise and less chocolate) I'll have a few decades to plan for the nursing home years. But closing the door to a life with children has opened the hatch to this new, alien place and I'm still having trouble finding shelves and closets for my brand new set of random thoughts and general concerns.
It's very strange to have gone from a mother-to-be to a woman planning her 80th birthday in just a handful of years.