There Was An Old Woman

There was an old woman, who lived….not in a shoe, she actually lived in an old house but in a very nice Gold Coast location. She had spent almost 40 years in the same house, and in that time, the only thing that had changed was the carpet. Once. Built in the 70s, the house still sported a brown and orange kitchen, blue floral tiled bathrooms, that peeled more often than not, even with layers of super glue, and a white concrete pillar balcony out the back. The swimming pool was as pristine as it was 30 years ago when it was built.

But while the pool still glistened, the old lady did not. She had aged – she was 90 years old after all – and had slowed down considerably. The days of having grandchildren in the pool every weekend and the old woman and her husband coming and going to golf, tennis, lawn bowls, the grandkids place had long gone. Instead, they’d been replaced by long, lonely days, often filled with pain – physical and emotional. This house had seen the arrival of 5 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. It had also seen the passing of her husband and years later, their son. The house, which was once full of love and laughter, was now cold and empty. Uninviting.

The old lady was starting to have more frequent trips to hospital, and she wondered aloud to her daughter, “Why can’t they just give me an injection and put me to sleep?”

Sometimes we out-live life. Living to 90 is a privilege many people don’t get. But for some, living to 90 is also a curse. When you can’t hear, you can’t see, you are given just months before doctors predict you will be in a wheelchair, nothing brings you joy anymore, and you wonder “Why am I still here?!” it is not living. It is merely existing. When you can’t remember your daughters name, or that you’ve just asked the same question 5 times in the last 30 minutes, it is not living.

Sometimes we out-live life. At that point, it should be up to us what happens next.



32 thoughts on “There Was An Old Woman

  1. So well written and so very true – sometimes we do out-live life and you are right – we should be able to choose.
    Sending heaps of hugs your way !
    Me xox

  2. Beautiful post, Aroha. My Grandma turned 93 over the weekend. While she is old and frail, she is as sharp as a tack. She often says though that she wishes she would hurry up and die. It must be hard just waiting. Argh. Tough topic, but you wrote about it beautifully.

  3. Boatman’s grandparents were this couple that loved into their nineties and still had each other. I want that to be us. But if he goes, and I’m pretty much useless, well… I don’t really want to think about that.

    • I knew a couple who were inseparable the entire 35 years I knew them. Both their health was deteriorating, her’s more than his, and looking after her was all that kept him going. When she passed, he was so frail and ill he couldn’t go to the funeral. He died just days after her. It was the stuff fairytales were made of. My nanna has been without her husband for years, and has never been the same since he passed.

  4. Lots of great questions raised here. As a nurse who works in the palliative field you are right it does come down to choice. That choice may be to refuse further treatment and die or to fight like hell to the very last breath. I have seen both sides with people in their 90’s. There is no right answer to this question – it is as you say a matter of choice that needs to be respected.

    For some the choice will be accepted, for others – no so much.

    • While I very much support the right to choose, I also worry about how it would be monitored/carried out. Are people in my nanna’s situation of “right mind” enough to make a choice like this? Unfortunately for nanna it’s not a matter of just refusing treatment and letting go. Her best friend of 30 years has cancer that has spread and is having chemo to try and get a few more months if she can. They are in similar situations yet so so different too. Getting old ain’t a walk in the park!

  5. You’ve written beautifully about a really emotive subject. I think that they should have the choice too. Paul’s daughter is studying nursing and she recently did a placement at a hospital where there was an elderly man who couldn’t eat, could hardly talk and he needed an operation. His daughter was pressing for it, and even had him moved to a larger hospital to have it done. Of course all of the surgeons said no because he wasn’t well enough. It was really sad that he died in a large hospital with not as much one on one care instead of the small hospital where there was 4 nurses to 15 patients.

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