On Being Dependently Independent

Anyone who’s lived their life on the go, able to do whatever they’ve wanted, finds it hard to admit when they suddenly have limits. That they might need help. Asking for favors is difficult. This has been my challenge for many years as my limitations have increased. But I think I’ve finally figured out how to accomplish my daily goals while not trying to be wonder woman.

My adjustment began simply and I was probably in denial for a long time. Starting with using the handicapped card stuck to the rear-view mirror. At first, I only used it when there were several other empty spots at the Target store. I felt self-conscious since I looked so healthy and maybe I was depriving someone who really needed it.

Then there was my cane. I felt so conspicuous. At first, I only used it outside my apartment building, reasoning that my home environment was familiar and predictable. I avoid hilly or unpaved terrain. No more hiking.

I had guilt feelings when I hired a housekeeper. Maybe I’m just lazy I scolded myself. But I couldn’t do the reaching and bending necessary to clean the bathtub and vacuum. Sandy now comes once a month and I love the clean, fresh scent she leaves behind.

Who am I to use valet parking and a wheel chair when I see others, worse off than me, going in for their medical appointments. The specialty clinics I need to visit require elevator rides and trekking far into the long corridors of the hospital. My niece is adamant that she can and wants to take me there and is proud of her wheel chair transport skills.

Since I no longer can drive at night, I’m dependent on friends to pick me up on those rare occasions when we plan a night-time get together. Last time, it felt so strange even to be in a car after dark. I’m wistfully recalling when I never gave it a thought.

My most recent accommodation is home grocery delivery. It’s done on-line, paid by credit card and delivery is in a three-hour time frame on the day I pick. They even keep a history of past orders so it’s easy to compile future lists. It’s a lovely miracle when that polite young man shows up at my door with these nicely sorted bags and boxes.

With all these adjustments, my life has changed drastically. I often ask myself if I’m winning or losing this battle. I’ve decided I’m winning. Of course, there are some things I’ll never do again. But I now have more time and energy to do the interesting and fun things that make it all worthwhile.

And if accepting a little help is all it takes, I’m okay with that. What I always thought was a big deal seems to make no difference to anyone else but me. I have plenty of offers to help and often say thanks but no thanks. But I’m always pleased when someone makes the gesture. There sure are a lot of nice people in the world.

I’ll never be one of those a cranky old ladies who refuses to accept help then has a fall and needs a higher level of care. Thinking carefully and planning ahead is the way to go. I’m happy resting in this comfortable spot, nestled  between being independent and dependent.


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