I thought it might be vanity and in the end it made me cry

Before the flood

Ancient I called my Gramma today.  Actually I was calling my Aunt Annie but she wasn't home and neither was Uncle Dan and so that meant Gramma Bess was left to her own devices which entailed, among other things, answering the phone and chatting away to an unknown voice on the other end of the phone.  That would be me.  Grandchild numero uno and granddaughter only.  She's 95, cut her some slack.

It was a little funky though.  She answered the phone and I knew right away so I said, Hi Gramma!  It's me, Pet Girl! 

Gramma:  (cheeeeeerFUL) Well hello there, dear!  (Blunt monotone) Ann's not here.

Pet Girl:  Well that's OK, Gramma, I can talk to you.  How are you?

Gramma:  Well I'm just sitting here doing the crossword puzzle at the kitchen table. Dan's not here either.

Pet Girl:  Well that's OK, Gramma.  So they left you home alone then?

Gramma:  Yes, I'm home alone with the dog.

Pet Girl:  Well, Gramma, just try not to burn the house down, OK?

Gramma:  OK.

Pet Girl:  So, Gramma, how are the living arrangements working out for you?

Gramma:  Well, you know, it couldn't be helped.  I suppose I have to do it.  <deep sigh>

Pet Girl:  Well Gramma, it's good that you're living with Ann and Dan, you need to get out and see people and you're not sleeping all the time, are you?

Gramma:  No, I'm sitting here at the kitchen table doing the crossword puzzle.

Gramma:  Who is this?

Pet Girl:  It's me, Gramma, Pet Girl. 

Gramma:  Do I know you?

Pet Girl:  Yes, Gramma, you do.

Pet Girl:  Gramma, I hear you saw the Beloved Brother recently.

Gramma:  Yes, dear, he's such a love, he was through here awhile back.

Pet Girl:  Was Orla with him? 

Gramma:  Who?

Pet Girl:  His wife, Orla.

Gramma:  Oh no, just Beloved.

Gramma:  Who is this?

Pet Girl:  OK Gramma, it's Pet Girl.  Can you tell Annie I called?  OK, good, thanks Gramma, I'll see you this summer!

Gramma:  Oh that's so nice!  Who is this?

Oy. Freaking. Vey.

Here's the thing.  Gramma's supposed to be a little flaky.  She's been hanging in there with one hell of a ticker and a mind that's in sometimes and way out the others.  She surely cannot live alone. As a matter of fact she's lived in a boarding house for little old ladies for at least ten years with the exception of a brief stint with Ann and Dan that didn't quite work out.  Ann and Dan are retired now, for the most part, and have more time to spend with Gramma, who was spending most of her time sleeping in the boarding house. This upset everyone except Gramma.

Ann called my cell phone the other night when I was at home which means it went to voicemail because I live in no cell zone.  It's the only number she has for me because no matter how many times I give her a new number, that's the only one she keeps and she doesn't dial it during the day when I might actually be able to answer it. She left a message that suggested a massive breakdown in communication between all immediate members of that side of my family.  And she sounded irritated as all get out. I know perfectly well that Beloved Brother filled her in.  My father certainly has all of the details. He may not have told her a thing because he failed to process the information the same way she failed to process it when she got it the first time. This does not bode well.

Annie had an email account once.  I set it up for her five years ago so that she could be on the Bannon (as in the lovely Orla) family mailing list. I'm pretty sure she never went out there. That was back before retirement when Annie still touched a computer on a daily basis.  Today Annie is early retired and there is no computer in the house.

My dad, Annie's brother, does have an email account and uses it frequently.  Unfortunately he uses his wife's account more often than his own and often sends irate letters to the editor of his local paper from his wife.  Whoops.  I've never been able to make him understand.  On the other hand, he's been around for years now, they've got to know it's him.

The next generation above me is young. None of them have hit seventy yet, as a matter of fact, Annie is just now sixty. All of them are failing one way or another in ways I find nearly unfathomable. And it isn't that I need Mommy and Daddy to be coherent, it's that I can't comprehend it all going at once and so damn early.

I was on the treadmill today. My lungs have finally healed enough (five months no smokes on Saturday) that they've caught up and surpassed my joints and ligaments. Used to be I would run a quarter mile and then walk half a lap to let my heart rate come back down out of heart attack area. My heart rate isn't doing that anymore so I just kept on going.  I made it two laps and change, that's just a hair more than half a mile and decided not to push it even though I hadn't even spiked over 170.  I came right back down to 135 in no time at all and started up running again.  I got through the first lap and my right knee started to hurt.  Sharp shooting pains running up and down my body. I lifted myself up off the treadmill and ran on my toes for a bit and then came back down, same thing.  I did this off and on through the second lap and then dropped back to a brisk walk.  Even using my upper body to hold most of my weight up it still hurt like hell and my heart rate was still perfectly fine. I kept walking. It kept hurting.  I just couldn't believe this was happening.  I left the treadmill running and hopped off. I put my right leg up on the pool table and stretched the hell out of my tendons.  It felt pretty good.  Got back on.  Badness. Walked very, very slowly for another ten minutes.  Badness.

Got off the treadmill. The sweat had dried and I was cold. Up the stairs was OK, into the shower, dressed and ready to go.  Down the stairs.  Holy. Mother. Of. God. In the car, drive to work, all OK.  Out of the car. down the incline to the elevators.  Bad. Bad. Bad.

Most of the day I was really good.  I stayed off my feet. At 4:40 somebody on my floor smelled smoke.  I ignored it.  At 4:45 the fire alarms went off.  I started to shut down. At 4:50 I gave up and yanked my computer from it's docking station and headed for the stairs.  Five flights.  Down.  All down.  I did not cry.  When I reached the bottom I looked around for a stair case to the parking garage.  Nothing, I headed around the building and started down two flights of ramps.  By the time I got to my car I was crying. Bad. Bad. Bad.

I know what's going to happen.  I'm going to see doc tomorrow and have an x-ray.  It will either be blown or it won't.  Either way, I think I'm finished. Such a terrible irony in a way. Off the smokes just in time to find out just how broken down those ligaments and joints really are. The flip side is that a good elliptical will do the trick.  I'll just have to find a way to shoehorn it into the lower level. But it does mean no more runs with Big Dog in the morning and it does mean that this is really happening.

I am not twenty or even thirty anymore. I can't even lay claim to forty.

Bummer, dude. Now how long do you suppose I can hang on to my mind?