Sunday, January 29, 2012

Late night trumpet calls

My husband has been away these past few days and I have been sleeping like a top, sleeping so soundly the hours pass in an instant. And it’s not because I do not miss him.

How can I write this without seemingly taking the mickey out of the man I love? I have been thinking on this issue for some time now. Ever since I read Lynn Freed’s wonderful book on Reading Writing and Leaving Home.

My husband has left home, albeit briefly, and I am left lonelier, but free from his incessant snoring. Lynn Freed writes about snoring stories as the great stories of revenge, the way in which at dinner partes, women, and it is usually women, tell stories about the nature of their husband’s snoring. They can keep their fellow dinner guests in stitches as they regale them of the horrors of those late night trumpet calls, while the husband, the poor perpetrator of said snores is left humiliated and in shame.


Two generations - asleep and snoring?

It’s true. I do not write about such things as a rule because I do not want to humiliate or belittle the ones I love, or do I?

My thesis topics pops back into my mind. It has been absent for several months now. I’m still waiting to hear whether or not I have passed. Life writing and the desire for revenge. The way in which a desire for revenge can inspire writing, not that I want to take revenge on my husband or do I?

I cannot talk easily about his snoring. He finds it insulting. He tries to stop. He rolls over when I nudge him, but even then within minutes his throat constricts and he is back at it again.

Is it his helplessness against snoring that causes him to want to throw it back at me? ‘You snore, too.’ The gut impulse. The talion principle, an eye for an eye. You insult me and I’ll insult you back. Or is it something else?

Please, don’t talk about sleep apnoea or other common ailments. I do not believe it to be the case here. I put it down to age and occasionally too much red wine, but even when he drinks lightly or not at all the snoring persists. I play musical beds until it subsides.

The past few days I have not needed to move about. I can stay put, hence my sleep is more sound.

I have a friend whose wife snores. She is the culprit, and the same principles apply. They came to our house one day overjoyed to have found a new treatment, a sliver of something or other than you put on the back of your tongue, a wafer like substance that dissolves in your mouth and apparently stops the snoring.

My friend is a beautiful and dignified women in her sixties. How can it be that her snoring is enough to wake the dead? She smokes, her husband says by way of explanation. She smokes. Maybe that is the cause.

Smoking’s to blame. It seems we need to find some point from which we can blame the perpetrator of snores, hence the additional shame.

Snoring is treated as a crime, and yet it is one from which we all suffer. It cannot be a crime. It is only a problem when the person who shares your bed finds it too much. Or when it suggests some malady in need of attention.

As I said earlier, I put it down to aging. I am like my mother here. She ascribes every bodily ailment that slows her down to her aging. I, too, imagine that my husband’s snoring comes of his aging and he like me is ashamed of both.

Why be ashamed of our aging?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Didion puts it well in her recent book, Blue Nights:
‘Aging and its evidence remain life’s most predictable events, yet they also remain matters we prefer to leave unmentioned, unexplored: I have watched tears flood the eyes of grown women, loved women, women of talent and accomplishment, for no reason other than that a small child in the room, more often than not an adored niece or nephew, has just described them as ‘wrinkly’, or asked how old they are.

'When we are asked this question we are always undone by its innocence, somehow shamed by the clear bell-like tones in which it is asked. What shames us is this: the answer we give is never innocent. The answer we give is unclear, evasive, even guilty ... there must be a mistake: only yesterday I was in my fifties, my forties, only yesterday I was thirty-one…’

Didion’s thoughts about her daughter’s adoption, life, and early death lead Didion into thoughts on her own aging and frailty.

It’s a thing that dogs us all, this aging business. I talked about it recently among a small group of friends and most resonated, though the youngest of our group, a woman in her early forties with a small child at home, brushed it off. It’s too far away from her.

I used to be like that, too. I used to think that I would not worry about getting old until it hit me and then I’d die. But these days it hits me daily with a ferocity I had never imagined possible.

It is like wading through mud. The fact that I used to have a school aged child and that my mother is still alive convinced me that I was still a long way away from needing to reflect on this, but my daughter has just now finished school and my mother who lives on and now plans to reach one hundred, reminds me of my age.

‘You have to recognise you are old,’ my mother says, ‘when you have a seventy year old son, a forty year old granddaughter and a six year old great grand son.’

Where did the time go?

76 comments:

no-one said...

I've never worried about being old. Since I hit adulthood, people have been saying to me "wait til you reach (whatever age), then you'll understand." I still don't. I know people who are old from the time they're children, and individuals who are older in age but seem so young.
I've also never understood people who lie about their age, the ones who endlessly turn 29.
As a wise woman on my twitter feed said "when you tell people you're younger than you are, it just makes them think you look old for your age."

The Elephant's Child said...

True. But would you be a teenager again? If I had the ability to choose an age, I would be no younger than my late twenties, and perhaps more comfortable in my thirties. And yet, I am who I am, which includes my age. Wrinkles, increased frailty and all. I would however love to be as supple as a baby or a cat again.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Where indeed? There is a certain point at which it all becomes forefront in your mind. When parents fail or die, especially, we are confronted with it starkly. I don't know what to say about the snoring - my husband used to, but then he started using saline spray before bed, and now he doesn't...and he is 72. He doesn't snore now, but he did at 40! Go figure...

Anthony Duce said...

I’m one of those who pretends I’m not getting older, most of the time. And each time I have to face up to some related new limitation, I will have a pity party for myself, and be depressed for at least a few hours. It usually only takes a few hours fool myself, and go one believing I’m still ageless.

David Batista said...

My wife snores, and she's snores pretty mercilessly. Enough to wake the dead! I sleep like a mouse, never making even the slightest squeak. She's been this way ever since always, so I can't ascribe it to age in her case. It has something to do with the soft palette and her nasal passages, I know. Purely bio-physical.

Although I'm such a light sleeper, I've grown up in the big city where nighttime noise is something you wrap around you like a comfortable blanket. I guess that's why her snoring doesn't get on my nerves. Much.

But, yes, sometimes I do have to break out the sharp nudge to the ribs on occasion when her "trumpeting" does become overbearing. I'm glad to read I'm not the only one now. :)

oceangirl said...

My brother who is just 36, young and healthy, snores. My girl friend, she's 47, non-smoker, healthy, snores. I don't :) - no one has said I do, but then I had not slept with anyone in almost 4 years :) The point is like you said, snoring is not a joke.

Elizabeth said...

The sound of snoring makes me feel as if I'm insane. Honestly, if I owned a gun, I'm sure that I would shoot the snorer.

As for aging, I am 48 and very, very aware of it for the first time. I recently bought a book called "Aging as a Spiritual Practice," and I'm sort of embarrassed to read it in front of anyone -- not just because of the title, but because I imagine myself to not be quite at the age of "aging."

JeannetteLS said...

My ex-husband snored and would not believe us until the kids put a tape recorder under the bed. Then he simply got angry. When he left, it took little time to get used to the quiet. I felt guilty about that at first, believe it or not!

Aging. Most of the time I am finding it curiously freeing. But sometimes, when the pain from my condition builds and does not abate for days, I am terrified. Aging and alone. I calm myself down, though, fast enough. Most of the time the thought of sixty is freeing and I am not quite sure why. I am hoping when the birthday comes, I'll know why I am looking forward to it.

For now, it seems quite ODD.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

50 pounds ago K snored very loud. He is much quieter since he lost that weight, but because he always falls asleep first even the softer snoring keeps me awake. I play musical beds, too.

You ever hear yourself snore? Once in awhile I do. I seem to achieve a semi-consciousness and my body goes into sleep mode yet I am still somewhat aware and I'll hear and, more rarely, feel myself begin to snore.

River said...

Both of my husbands snored, mostly when falling asleep and when drunk.
Once they were soundly asleep the snoring stopped until they woke and had to get back to sleep again. I find I snore when my hayfever is bad and if I turn on my side it stops.

Aging has never worried me and I've never lied about my age. I'm 59. And a half. My mum used to tell people she was 26, until my own daughter said that couldn't be true "because mum is already 30".

Isabel Doyle said...

Sleep - disturbed or silent, blissful sleep. My husband has severe, once life-threatening sleep apnoea and for the last 20 years or so, has 'slept with a machine'. The first one sounded like Darth Vader, as does his 'travelling' outfit, but the permanent home one is silent ... except sometimes he sleeps with his mouth open and hisses, which is nearly as bad as snoring.

I almost never have an undisturbed night's sleep, whether it is one of my bed companions or the pain in my own body. But, when Marius is away and I should have 'peace' (or more likely I am away), neither of us sleep properly after the first exhausted and peaceful night.

I never speak publicly about the breathing or the sleep disturbance. He would feel betrayed and I would feel I had betrayed him.

I hope the family has a good time in (?) Thailand and that you find the loneliness bearable and the rest restorative.

Isabel x

Jim Murdoch said...

When I wrote Jonathan Payne I had a moment when I had to decide how old he was. I chose fifty-three. Fifty-three seemed old then but, of course, I’m now almost fifty-three and married to a women who is almost sixty-five and so—as one would expect—my perception of when being old starts has changed. When I talk about Jonathan Payne to people I still refer to him as an old man. Does that mean I’m old? In some respects I was born old; I’ve always been comfortable in the company of people years older than me and I’ve never dated a girl or a woman who was younger than me although I would never have said that I was especially attracted to older women; it was never their looks that drew me, rather their maturity. Carrie is chronologically older than me, that’s all.

The term I really struggle with is ‘middle-aged’. According to Collins Dictionary, this is "...usually considered to occur approximately between the ages of 40 and 60". I just can’t see how any sextagenarian can think they can get away with calling themselves ‘middle-aged’ since no one lives to a hundred and twenty these days and few make it past a hundred. If my genes have anything to do with it I’m unlikely to survive to see eighty, so I’m not middle-aged, I’m two-thirds done. Old is not a bad thing to be. And yet it’s one of those words like ‘toilet’ that gets shied away from in polite conversation as if it’s rude to describe someone as an old person. ‘Mature’ is like ‘handsome’—you point out a single woman who doesn’t mind being referred to as handsome.

Snoring is something I used to suffer from quite badly. My last wife would kick me out of the bed and I'd totter off to the spare room without any fuss. For a while Carrie mentioned my snoring although it never bothered her that much. Hers bothered me and I started wearing earplugs but it’s been years since either of us mentioned it. I did suffer from apnoea though and that worried Carrie more than the snoring but even there I can’t remember the last time it was mentioned. So we seem to be going the other way oddly enough. Carrie sleeps on a wedge which she thinks might be helping her and, of course, we’ve both lost some weight but other than that I can’t think of any good explanation. I’m just happy that my sleep pattern has suddenly snapped back to normal. For the best part of two months it’s been all over the place but now—unexpectedly and inexplicably—I’m sleeping right the way through the night again and long may that continue.

Yesterday I finished my review of Miranda July’s non-fiction book, It Chooses You, which she wrote while struggling to complete her screenplay for the film that ended up becoming The Future and so I decided to watch the film last night to see if I could see how the experiences in the book affected the film. There was one exchange that jumped out of the film for me:

Sophie: We’ll be 40 in five years.
Jason: 40 is basically 50. And then after 50, the rest is just loose change.

What Jason means by ‘loose change’ is that you can’t do anything meaningful with it. Then, in another scene, a genuinely-old man later tells Jason that he—Jason that is—is only in “the middle of the beginning” so it’s all a matter of perspective I suppose.

Ruth said...

I like your perspectives on these things, Elizabeth.

My husband and I have been married nearly 34 years, and only recently we decided it would be good for us to sleep separately. We both sleep better. He snores. I've read that everyone sleeps better alone, and that around 50% of married couples sleep separately (I may be remembering that wrong, but it is a high number).

I have always embraced aging theoretically, with a mother who exemplified it so beautifully well. Now, with the truth of my aching body, I am trying to be very Zen about it all.

Ms. Moon said...

I snore. My husband snores. I have decided that snoring is part of our defense mechanism from back in the olden days when we slept in the caves, mainly unprotected and the animals crept close while we were asleep and then suddenly- this trumpeting snoring! and the animals were scared and ran.
This theory does not help with peaceful sleeping, however.
I do not care to discuss aging this morning. I am feeling too old.

Kath Lockett said...

Recent running injuries (and the time taken to heal) and photographs shock me as to how fast and cruel the ageing process seems to be. Inside my own heart/mind/soul, I feel about 26 until I see the evidence on the back of the camera, on Love Chunks' facebook page or in the mirror first thing in the morning....

As for snoring, LC was so bad he had an operation. I forget the medical terms and have long since described it as 'getting the curtains on the side of the stage removed'. He went through two weeks of agony as his throat healed and it worked perfectly. I never loved him as much as I did then, because he suffered so much.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Elisabeth:
oh dear, we do find it rather sad that although you miss your husband when he is away, you appreciate his absence from the marital bed because of his snoring. We do tend to agree, however, that although there seem to be patent cures for snoring advertised everywhere, they probably do not work.

We have to admit that we are definitely in the getting old disgracefully camp. We like to surround ourselves with friends of all ages, but those who are younger are definitely in the majority. It is not a wish to be younger ourselves particularly, since so many of them have the concerns of youth that we are pleased no longer to have. Rather it is that the vivacity for life with all it offers, the invincibility of youth and the dream of conquering the world provides endless hours of amusement.

steven said...

i like my age . . . my aging not so much. i snore. my wife occasionally does. it's like anything out of our control that's used against us - the helpless nes of being unable to prevent something happening that we never intended is a heavier weight than sheer malice. steven

Jane Lancaster said...

Someone said we are all helpless and the thing to do is to grow into our helplessness. Refreshing way of looking at it I feel. Somehow freeing..

My husband snores.. I sleep in the other room. Sometimes I ask him are we wrong?

Kirk said...

Since turning 50, I've been thinking about aging quite a bit. I feel fine, in spite of having to now take medication to treat my symptomless hypertension. What I really dislike is I no longer have as much time ahead of me, partly because I've frittered so much time that's now behind me. I know some might see this unproductive thinking (what got me in trouble in the first place, though I didn't recognize it as unproductive at the time, and thus couldn't prevent it), I would love to go back, start my life over, and avoid all the pitfalls and pratfalls and falls from grace. I wonder if there's anything in reincarnation that allows you to do that.

rosaria said...

We used to have grandparents around the house, part and parcel of everything, not just included now and then, but necessary forces for childcaring, running a household, advice on all aspects of living. Now, we are separated by age; we do things with other people OUR age, even though we could very well enjoy activities and places with older or younger folks.

We have lost that sense of continuity, of what each age/decade means.

Add how we are bombarded with advertisements on products for this or that ache, and we dread or imagine the worse is around the corner.

Andrew said...

While we may all ponder our ageing or the ageing process, it is quite futile really. It is going to happen regardless. Apart from the first couple of years, I and my partner have always slept in separate rooms. While it does nothing for spontaneity, it means a good sleep always. My partner snores, but of course I do not. Well, I never hear myself snore.

Anonymous said...

So, you don't want to know about sleep apnoea or any other medical mumbo jumbo, Elisabeth?
Then try sewing a tennis ball into the back of his sleep-wear, (and yes, alcohol and age do play a part.)

But if you or he ever want to deal with it professionally, there is a lot of help available.
Trust me, this is one of my areas!
Karen C

juliet said...

Ageing affects us all, and we could never predict exactly how. As for the snoring problem, I'm a great believer in the sanctuary of separate beds and even separate rooms. A good night's sleep is a necessary blessing.

Anonymous said...

Oh, forgot to mention my husband's reply to the snoring issue.
"Snoring is the sweetest sound a woman can hear. Just ask any widow!"
Karen C

Elisabeth said...

Great comment from the woman on twitter, No one, about the problem with lying about your age. If you claim to be younger you only look older than your years.

As for not worrying about aging, there are some who find it less daunting than others, like you, but it seems to me it's all relative. And the perception can change as you grow older, and nearer to old age, whenever that is.

I agree with you there are folks high in chronological years who are young in their outlook, and folks as young as twenty who behave like our stereotype of old and set in their ways.

Age is a convenient source for stereotyping across our life spans unfortunately, like body shape, gender race etc.

Thanks, No One.

Elisabeth said...

It would be lovely to be physically supple again as you say, Elephant's Child, and I'm with you about the hardships of adolescence.

I'm not sure I'd want to go back to those insecure years either, those years which for me lasted, and in someways continue, well into my thirties and forties. Things only improved for me into my fifties, and they continue to improve daily but the flip side is an increased sense of fragility with age. A pendulum effect.

Thanks, Elephant's Child.

Elisabeth said...

Well yours is a good story, Melissa. Your husband's snoring has improved with age.

I sometimes wonder, whether as my hearing deteriorates, which I expect it will if my mother's experience is anything to go by, I might not notice the noise.

As for when we start to notice the stuff of aging, I think it's there from early on, only it takes different forms.

When I was young I worried about looking too young to be taken seriously - that was in my early twenties when I began to work. It shifted in my thirties to the beginnings of a concern about my children growing up and now it centres on my own aging alongside that of my mother. Amazing isn't it? The way it moves around.

Thanks, Melissa.

Elisabeth said...

I know that feeling, Anthony, that wish to remain ageless.

I tried the other day to paint the bathroom ceiling. I used to do things like that quite regularly but I found this time I could not. I felt too wobbly and unbalanced atop the low ladder on which I stood and gave up half way.

Ah, the sadness of losing our agility, but there are other things I like to think have improved for me, like my capacity to think.

I'll bet your painting has improved with age, too, Anthony given all the practice and the wisdom that comes of life experience.

Thanks.

Elisabeth said...

I'm sure you're right, David, that soft palette and those nasal passages have a lot to answer for.

The way you describe wrapping the night noises around you like a comfortable blanket is so delightfully lyrical. I wish I could share the experience.

For me certain night noises, like dripping taps, ticking clocks and my husband's snoring can turn me almost murderous. I need the white noise of almost silence, something unpredictable traffic stutter, animal sounds, the whooshing of the tress but not the rhythmic sound of human creation, taps, clocks and nasal passages.

Thanks, David.

Elisabeth said...

One of my daughters, Fazlisa is said to snore and she's only in her mid twenties. I don't think age alone has to be an indicator as David above suggests. His wife has always snored. But it seems more likely, and anecdotally, it's the men who cop the criticism more even though we all know women snore, too, and maybe even you, though as you say no one's told you lately.

Thanks, Ocean girl.

Elisabeth said...

'You're still a youngster, Elizabeth,' says this person who is over ten years older.

It's all relative but when i was in my late forties, only yesterday it seems, for all sorts of complicated reasons I still felt young - enough. I still feel young enough come to think of it.

And when I talk to my 92 year old mother, she too feels young enough, only she wishes she could travel back to Holland from Australia for instance but realises that maybe it would be a bit too much for her.

Thanks, Elizabeth.

Elisabeth said...

I wonder whether with each increasing decade on our ages, Jeanette, we feel as if something strange is apace. I too am nearing sixty , and it does not feel quite as it did when I hit the half century mark, but closer to old age, not old old age as in the case of my mother, just plain old age.

As for your husband and the tape recorder, you highlight one thing I've noticed : how persecuting it can be for the snorer to be made aware of the snoring.

It is involuntary after all and can leave a person feeling humiliated, especially if they're used to being in control, or at least imaging they're in control.

Thanks, Jeanette.

Elisabeth said...

Ah Glenn, another one who plays musical beds. It can be wearing, can it not?

And as for over weight, I have heard that it too is a factor in snoring.

And, yes, I also have heard myself let out the odd snort in my sleep. I have been aware of long periods of my in breath, out breath and occasionally felt the impact of my husband's gentle nudge alerting me to the fact that I'm on my back and snoring.

Thanks, Glenn.

Elisabeth said...

We're the same age, River. What a lovely coincidence. Snorers do stoop and start in my experience. I find it hardest getting to seep against a backdrop of snoring but once I'm away it's less of a worry.

I suspect women of our mothers' generation might have been more inclined to lie about their ages. Though my mother never has. As far as I can remember she's always boasted of her age and the number of her children, and now grandchildren and great children, as if years and progeny are her greatest claims to fame.

Thanks, River.

Elisabeth said...

I have a friend who wears one of those extraordinary breathing machines in his sleep, Isabel, and he too looks like Darth Vader.

He showed it to us one day with pleasure. But this friend is a hypochondriac of sorts and counts his ailments as though they are his greatest achievements. Funny some are proud, and others ashamed.

The troops have gone to Thailand, Isabel and as far as I know they are having a splendid time, while we back home endure some typically hot Melbourne days interspersed with the occasional bucketful of rain.

Special greetings, Isabel, and thanks.

Elisabeth said...

It is all a matter of perspective, Jim, as you say. But when you tell me that the definition of middle age in the Collins dictionary is between 40 and 60 years of age, my heat soars momentarily from the illusion.

I agree with you that the ages, 40-60, are beyond middle age, not forty or fifty perhaps but sixty.

I used to think the period middle age existed between thirty and forty coming up to fifty but not past fifty, past fifty and you're half way there at least.

As for snoring, it's only become an issue for me in the last few years, before that it did not trouble me.
But in some ways I am more sensitive to intrusions on my sleep than I used to be.

I always wake up at least twice a night though sometimes it can be as often as four or five times. It's okay because I generally fall back to sleep immediately.

I hate insomnia perhaps more than most other things that can annoy me, and if I miss the point of dropping off to sleep because the snoring - or anything else - keeps me awake then I can become very cranky indeed.

You and Carrie sound so well suited. You are fortunate to have found such a soul mate and excellent editor of your work. Your best reader.

Thanks, Jim.

Elisabeth said...

That is a high number Ruth: fifty percent of couples who sleep separately. It may be accurate, but such statistics are no doubt hard to come by.

I know of other couples who agree that it's a good thing to sleep separately, but thy are all getting on in years. Younger people have a different perspective I suspect. judging by a conversation at our dinner table last night.

One of my daughter's boyfriend was remarking on the eccentricities of his grandparents and among the list of comments that to him suggested serious problems he included the fact that they had had separate bedrooms for years.

It made me wonder. I think I used to think the same when I was younger, but now not so. It's funny how your perspective changes as you age, even as your body slows down. And, like you, I think it helps to be Zen about it.

Thanks, Ruth. It's always such a pleasure to see you here.

Mary LA said...

The trials and conditions we shroud in jokes or shaming -- another place for us writers to explore and demystify.

Snoring is in some ways as unacceptable as flatulence and I remember my housemate's mother weeping when she told us she dared not go to church any more because she would fart through sermons. We laughed and teased her, completely inadequate response. She had no way of meeting others or participating in local community life outside of church.

Ageing, oh yes. I am afraid to garden as impulsively as I once did because of fears I will hurt my back -- the stiffness of my knees -- the exercises that seem to be just a way of holding back sclerotic ageing, all that will keep happening through my 50s.

What we call here 'funeral flowers' or brown age marks on the backs of my hand. Pigmentation another joke. Who's laughing?

Elisabeth said...

'I snore. You snore. All God's chillun snore,' or so the song might go, Ms Moon.

I think your theory on why humans snore is a wonderful one, but I'm sorry to hear that you were feeling old at the time you wrote this comment. I hope that moment's lapse has passed and that you can now feel young again. These sensations, feeling old and feeling young can move around.

My mother remarried when she was 65 years old. I remember how happy she was and how youthful she felt . It was as if she had gone back in age by about thirty years and the feelings lasted a long time. Over eighteen years until her second husband died.

I did not like my mother's second husband much but I rejoice for her in that he gave her so many years of happiness given the number of difficult years she had with my father in her first marriage.

I hope you're feeling younger now, Ms Moon. To some extent it's all illusory anyway. You'd know, you can act. you can create whole new worlds of experience within. The rest of us can playact.

Thanks, Ms Moon.

Elisabeth said...

That's a powerful clue, Kath, the length of time it takes for wounds to heal. I've noticed it, too. Even a scratch which would once have disappeared in what seemed like a day or two now lingers for weeks.

And as for the shock of seeing yourself in the mirror: I still expect to see a much younger me. I can't get over how much I've changed. But once I begin to converse with another or others and to lose myself in the moment all that photo image stuff disappears.

Thanks, Kath.

Elisabeth said...

Jane and Lance, this would have to be one of the first times I have responded directly to a comment that comes not from one person but from two and both speaking together in a united voice. I find it a tad disconcerting but no doubt I will get over it soon enough.

I too enjoy the idea if growing old 'disgracefully'. I have a number of friends who seek a similar end, and yes it is discomforting to lose the old vivacity and physical prowess, but we can still converse and write and blog and keep abreast of other activities with our much younger peers.

Thanks, Jane and Lance.

Elisabeth said...

I agree, Steven, it's not the wish to offend through snoring but the involuntary nature of it that can be most disconcerting for both the snorer and his/her unwilling audience.

We do not want to upset one another, nor keep each other awake and yet sometimes it'd beyond our control. And as you suggest, we can respect our age, but we cannot stop the process of aging.

Thanks, Steven.

Elisabeth said...

Growing into or helplessness, Jane, is like growing backwards from competent age back to infancy. I reckon there's some truth in this.

It reminds me of a doctor who once said to me after the birth of one of my daughters, the most dangerous day of our lives is the day we are born. Thereafter our chances begin to improve until we reach a certain age where the tables turn again and we are back in the danger zone of old age, or old old age or of infirmity as I think of it.

At each extreme end we may be more vulnerable, but our vulnerability is still a constant throughout life and in some ways most powerful when we feel most invulnerable during our omnipotent early years when we sometimes mistakenly believe we can do anything, including living forever.

Thanks, Jane.

Elisabeth said...

The appeal of reincarnation is obvious isn't it, Kirk? This idea of getting a second chance. Though from what I can understand in reincarnation we don't get much conscious choice of how we come back. Our lives are reallocated.

I don't allow myself to imagine myself coming back again in whatever form, but, like you, I sometimes wish I had more time and that I could go back and undo some of the mistakes I've made. I know it's impossible so I work hard on not entertaining too many regrets.

Thanks, Kirk.

Elisabeth said...

Recently, Rosaria, I saw a short documentary via the blogosphere where they showed a retirement village that incorporated a day 's visit each week by children from the local kindergarten. These children came into the retirement village and interacted with the residents, those who wanted to join in, and it was a successful project.

The older people found they needed less medication and the youngsters improved in their writing skills and sociability. A win win.

All this is to say I agree with you about how problematic it is to segregate people of different ages. We do not create a just and helpful society for everyone this way. It's better for all to recognise the need and inevitability of all ages and stages.

it's good to see you here, Rosaria, and thank you.

Elisabeth said...

I'm not sure, Andrew, but I reckon spontaneity as you describe can well be inhibited by lack of sleep. There's something to be said therefore for separate beds.

And as for aging, it seems we are of one voice here, Andrew, you, me and all the other commenters on this post: It seems there's nothing we can do about it, but experience it in one way or another. How we deal with it is the issue and that varies from person to person.

Thanks, Andrew.

Elisabeth said...

I know that snoring ca be a indicator of sleep apnoea and other disturbances, Karen, but I was focussing more on the emotional aspects of it for the one who must listen to the snoring.

Thanks, though for your generous offers of help, if necessary. The tennis ball tucked into the back of pyjamas sounds like a fairly basic if not effective remedy, one I doubt I'd try, though others who read this might like to experiment and maybe even report back, if their relationship can withstand it.

You afterword is poignant, too Karen. I can well imagine for some they might well miss the sound of snoring.

Thanks again, Karen.

Elisabeth said...

A good sleep is a necessary blessing, as you say, Juliet. You share the suggestion of many commenters here about the efficacy of separate beds. There is also the symbolic meaning of such separateness to consider, but that might take a whole new post.

Thanks, Juliet.

jane.healy said...

My late husbands snoring was so bad at one time that I longed for the nights that he would be away from home and I could snuggle into our bed alone and enjoy a decent nights sleep. Then we were staying at some hot springs for a few days break ... and presto he was cured. I kid you not, for at least the next ten years his snoring stopped. And when it came back it was a gentle purr rather than a bone shaking rattle. Now I sleep alone and often wake myself with my own snoring!

One thing for sure you're born, you live and then you die. It's a hard fact to digest but it's there.

Eryl said...

My husband snores, too, and he sleeps restlessly, jumping about and tugging at the covers. It's not unusual for me to wake up freezing because he's tugged too much and left me uncovered altogether. He won't hear of separate beds (perhaps it feels like giving up, or admitting to something he'd rather not) so I tend to stay up till the early hours (4, 5, 6) and sleep all morning while he is away at work.

As for ageing, I was apprehensive about turning 50 (last year) but have found I'm much more relaxed than I've ever been. My eyesight's not what it once was, and I have the odd grey hair, but all in all I don't mind being this age nearly as much as I thought I would. I could well feel very differently if I lived in a city with lots of young beautiful people around. Here in this part of rural Scotland there are very few people between twenty and forty, so I seem to be pretty average if not on the young side.

Rose said...

If you worry about getting older you just get more wrinkly! Ear plugs cure snoring :D Thanks Elizabeth for another interesting write :D

Elisabeth said...

That's an extraordinary story, Jane. I wonder what's in those hot springs that they should cure your husband of his snoring? And now you sleep alone, the snoring but a memory. I suppose the experience is mixed.

As for your thoughts on the inevitability of life and death, I'm with you there.

Thanks, Jane Healy.

Elisabeth said...

I'd never have picked you for fifty from your profile picture, Eryl. How deceptive these profiles can sometimes be. They stay put as we grow older.

As for your husband tugging off the blankets. My husband accuses me of this, but it's a joke I think because he is the more restless sleeper and I fear each time he tosses in my direction he sends more blankets over to me. It's not that I take them from him, but it's all in the perception. Who's to know the facts of this? We're both asleep through it.

It sounds like a wonderfully peaceful place to live, in your corner of rural Scotland. Life's more hectic here it would seem.

Thanks, Eryl

Elisabeth said...

I used to use earplugs, Rose, but even with them in place, even as they blocked some of the sound, I could still feel the vibrations through the bed. I'm sensitive perhaps.

As for worrying about growing older, you're right, it only makes you more likely to develop more worry lines, in other words, as you say, to grow more wrinkly.

Thanks, Rose.

Phoenix said...

America is one of the most age-obsessed cultures in the west, and on top of that, I live in Hollywood, and on top of that, I'm trying to make my living as an actress. So, yes. I get it. I never thought I'd be someone who lies about her age, or dodges the question, or changes the subject. I thought no matter what age I was, I'd always feel like I had unlimited, untapped potential. But it's hard (although I still try my damndest) to do this in Hollywood, where women lose jobs if they are over 30, and people start asking you what your back up plan is if you aren't a major movie star by 25. I just grit my teeth and think, Meryl Streep, Meryl Streep, Meryl Streep...

As for the snoring, a boyfriend of mine snored badly during the winter when he was congested, and I spent a majority of our December's and January's on our couch. And I won't lie... it was hard. I'm glad you are getting good sleep for a few days :)

Anonymous said...

It's my ADD Elisabeth (lol). I read the first few lines and take off at a tangent.
I turned 30 happily and pregnant with my first and turned 40 with grace but turning 50 made me feel more dead than alive knowing that I had left more productive years behind me than were in front of me. It's a mind thing, I know.
My mother, father and both my in-laws all died in their early 60's but the previous generation lived well into their 80's or 90's.
Should I be worried? Which direction will the trend go?
Karen C

Elisabeth said...

Meryl Streep, Tracy, Meryl Streep alright. Her talent defies the limitations of any age. I've heard about the need for actors to stay young especially the female ones. It must be dreadful. To us 'ordinary' folk you're gorgeous but to the power moguls of the media who prefer inbuilt redundancy even for humans, you're too long on the shelf. Ridiculous. You can't become the likes of Meryl Streep if you don't get positions over time through which to hone your skills.

As for your old boyfriend, it's a good thing by the sound of things that it's over.

Thanks, Tracy.

Elisabeth said...

I don't suppose you can afford to let yourself worry, Karen, it won't help put you into the long lived group from your ancestry, Karen. But I hope you make one of the long lived souls, assuming that's what you want and your quality of life stays good enough.

Thanks again, Karen. Don't worry about ADD. I don't reckon I suffer from it but I, too, am forever running off on tangents. To me it's more a case of lateral thinking.

persiflage said...

Aging. It is a hard one. It is not something which has ever bothered me, but now, widowed, I wonder how many good years I have left. Having watched the physical and mental deterioration, the self-absosrption,the dwindling of energy and being able to take the trouble, the rigidity of mind, makes me wonder 'Can these things be avoided? To what extent are they choices, or are they inevitable changes for most of us?"

I hope for ten good years. But who knows?

My first husband jerked and twitched in his sleep, and it was difficult for me to fall asleep. I have always had difficulty getting to sleep. My second husband shook the bed whenever he turned over, and he got up frequently during the night. Eventually I slept alone. That was so much better - from the sleep point of view.
Perhaps missing someone is more of a daytime experience, and for most of the night time it is different. Except when there is the need to snuggle up together, whether for sex or togetherness or both.

the cuby poet said...

A friend of mine said the other day that when she looks in the mirror first thing she is always dismayed at the wrinkled person looking back. Oh dear! My genes are on my side as at 55 I have very few grey hairs which is so cheering as for snoring that is another matter!I do I'm told.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

I hope you got some restful sleep. I suppose I should be thankful that my husband doesn't snore, but maybe some day down the line one of us will begin. Thanks for visiting my blog and my website. Sorry about the background noise, I'll have to do some investigating to find out why that was! Thanks again!

erin said...

the pinpoint of all of our ailments is our inability to admit our mortality. what a foolish lot we are.

there is a wonderful blog on which dean posts thoughtful pieces which focus on life and death, our being, and thoughtful living.

it is here http://beautywelove.blogspot.com/

it polishes beliefs i have arrived at on my own and helps to point me gently, sometimes, in new directions.

xo
erin

Rachel Fenton said...

Lis, I imagine you may know of this already but Fish Publishing are doing a memoir competition now and I thought of you. Sorry I cannot get the link to paste.

Taradharma said...

After reading some information on Social Security benefits in the U.S. I realized I am a mere 7 years away from collecting my benefit. Somehow that makes me feel very old. And yet, it's the best alternative, the only other one being death.

I used to snore horribly -- horribly!! Then I lost 100 lbs. and now only snore a little. My snoring was so bad that no one could share a room with me -- my wife recording me once. I sounded like a combination of a freight train and unhappy cow. Imagine!

Elisabeth said...

I think you may be right, Persiflage, the business of missing someone is a daytime experience, or perhaps more an awake experience.

I can imagine that in the middle of the night when you are awake, aware of being alone and sleep evades you, you might on the other hand be much more susceptible to the loneliness.

I can be cavalier about preferring my bed alone when it's a temporary separation, Persiflage. I don't know how I'd go were it a permanent one, like yours.

As for aging, it must have been hard to watch your husband deteriorate so much over time and of course such an experience must stir up feelings about one's own mortality. Anyone's ill health, aging or deterioration does.

Thanks, Persiflage.

Elisabeth said...

Ah Cuby Poet, 55 and not too many grey hairs yet. Lucky you. My husband started to go grey in his early thirties and his sisters both sported a grey patch on the front of their otherwise brown heads of hair as early as their twenties. My daughters are terrified of following in their aunts' footsteps. But at least it's not unusual for women to get help from a bottle.

As for snoring, as you say, it is another matter.

Thanks, Cuby Poet.

Elisabeth said...

It's lovely to see you here, Elizabeth Grimes. You are young as is your husband - early days yet. I hope snoring doesn't become a problem for you, as for aging I hope you both live long enough to complain like the rest of us. Aging is both a blessing and a curse.

Thanks, Elizabeth.

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for the link, erin. What a beautiful and soothing place. A place that can feed souls, as you say, and help perhaps to overcome some of our angst about mortality, foolish as we may be not to want to reflect on it.

Thanks, erin.

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for telling me about the Fish memoir prize, Rachel. I'd heard of it but I'm grateful for the reminder and for the connection.

Elisabeth said...

What a combination, TaraDharma, a freight train and a cow, that is some case of snoring.

I, too, am not far off being eligible for government assistance if I need it. I'm hoping I won't. In Australia the government is urging people to stay on at work for as long as possible - a good thing I think. Certainly I'm a long way from retirement. In fact I don't that I will ever retire as such, just hopefully slow down

Thanks, TaraDharma.

Kass said...

I think a lot about growing older and older and dying the kind of death my mom did. On the positive side, I look forward to the health benefits I will receive a year from April when I turn 65. In a lot of ways I feel the same as when I was in High School so it's shocking when people refer to me as that older lady.

The noise of breathing when one is less than conscious - hmmmm. I know I was always irritated at how my ex-husband could drop off to sleep so quickly and taunt me with the noise of it.

Elisabeth said...

My brother in law is dying at the moment, Kass, but his death is not one I'd call dignified, in large part because he is in denial, not so much about the fact that he is dying but about the fact that he has feelings about his dying, as do others, his siblings and friends mainly because he is not in an intimate relationship and has no children.

On the other hand, there is my mother, and yours too I imagine, whose deaths are able to be acknowledged at least to some extent. It makes it easier for those left behind.

I hope that when and if I get to a point where I know that I am dying that I take time to talk about it with others. It's painful perhaps but to my way of thinking it's the one great thing that helps besides painkillers and the treatment of the pain.

Death and aging are of course inextricably linked. the older we get the closer we come to dying.

Thanks, Kath.

Kass said...

Lis - Once again, I'm amazed at how you respond to the responses. Do these thoughts come quickly and are you able to just whip them out on the keyboard? When I look at the volume of comments and your careful consideration in responding, I wonder how you have time to do anything else. It's one of the reasons I took such a big break. It was taking me at least 2 hours a day to keep up with my blogging friends.

How do you do it? And with such brilliance?

Elisabeth said...

It's not easy, Kass, and there are times when I fear I do not visit enough of my fellow bloggers' blogs as I'd like. There are some stunning blogs. The best I figure I can do is attend to my own blog first and foremost and that includes responding to every comment that comes my way. I do not always respond immediately, though. And often I wait until I have a spare hour or so in which I try to respond to as many comments as I can.

I tend to write fairly quickly and the comments that most people send are generally so warm and heartfelt that it's easy to get going in response. I enjoy conversation and the sorts of conversations that are possible on line cheer me enormously, but as you say they are time-consuming.

I have to discipline myself to spend only so much time blogging, especially when I have other writing tasks at hand. I have always written in what I consider to be the nooks and crannies of the day, and so I get by, but just.

Thanks, Kass.

Syd said...

I can feel age creeping on some days but most people think that I am much younger than my years. Attitude makes a big difference.

Elisabeth said...

I agree, Syd, attitude to age, your own and that of others makes all the difference.

There is a great deal of ageism in our society here in Australia, going on both directions. The young are deemed too young to be effective and the older folk are deemed to old to be useful. Neither is true, but still we tend to cling to our ferocious certainties and exclude people on the basis of our prejudice. It's sad ad the only way to fight it is to override that prejudice in whatever ways we can.

Thanks, Syd.