A friend announced that she’s ridding her home of once treasured belongings, little by little.

“Oh yeah, you’re in the process of dying.” I said.


She’s past middle age, but not yet old enough to be drawn to articles about purging in AARP magazine under headlines like, “Common Old People Habits.”

“I’m just clearing out so my children aren’t left with all my junk.” She said.

“I rest my case.” I said.

I started purging suits and dresses when I was around sixty. I no longer wore them at work and when I retired, well, I no longer wore them period. During the pandemic I bundled up five plastic bags full of old garments that I loved, and sent them off to a resale shop. I then fell for the ubiquitous internet ads luring me into purchasing “casual clothes”. The empty space in my closet gradually filled in with comfortable pants, also known as pajamas, and colorful tops, also known as sweatshirts. These are the inching-toward-dying clothes.

Purging includes all the old letters, not because I’ll be embarrassed if the uninvited read them, but because the invited won’t. I’m counteracting this indifference by writing memoirs. There are other signs of moving toward dying. My friends, like me, have less tolerance for personal dramas. Oh, we may express understanding to our offspring’s tears and fears about bad bosses or broken relationships. But really, we know just when to slip out of the room or off the phone to avoid the theatrics. We’ve been there. We survived. We moved on.

Obsession with the weather is a keystone of my old age. When I acquired a three-wheel electric scooter, I downloaded all the weather apps on my iPhone-five of them. Instant updates, including pollen forecasts, determine if I scoot or take the bus. Happily there’s no shortage of old people chewing over the weather.

Except for doctor appointments, I have no responsibilities to manage in the early morning. And yet, the older I’ve gotten, the earlier I wake up. I listen to the radio, drink coffee, read the news. Audio books and podcasts are a great comfort to sleepy eyes at 5:00 am. A young friend once asked why old people get up so early.

“Because we’re all afraid we’re gonna die.” I said

Henry the dog social distancing

I used to walk Henry, the best dog on the planet, in the early morning. His process of dying was short-lived. He turned his tail under, dug in the closet, slept standing up, clung to me. At the last, he cried to be put out of his misery. One might say he purged himself from my life. But he was supposed to last longer—maybe longer than me.  The actuarial tables on my life expectancy indicate it would be imprudent for me to have another pet. 

Submitting to the idea of growing too old to have another dog is a new item in the burgeoning process-of-dying tote bag. 

I suspect the resulting sorrow will follow me to the grave.

12 thoughts on “Inching Toward Dying

  1. You don’t say how old you are, probably not quite on your way out yet. I’ve been trying to convince my father, 92, to start writing a memoir. He did it once before (a miniversion) when his dog died. I think it would be really great for him to take stock of his life (for us all, really).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Instead of waiting for Dad, he could begin interviewing and recording……us oldsters talk a lot once we know someone wants to listen.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Henry died!! All my sympathies. I think you should get a dog as long as friends or family have promised to be godparents. A good friend wondered if she should get another dog at the age of 80. She has never been without a dog. Her daughter promised to adopt it. The new dog, Penny, is loved.
    Your essay reminded me of a couple recent things. The NYT mentioned advice for the new year. One man said, “I’ve made it through 100% of my bad days.” I also just read this on NextAvenue.org: https://www.nextavenue.org/how-to-grow-old-cicero-has-some-sage-advice/?utm_source=Next+Avenue+Email+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f551eb7516-Tuesday_Newsletter_01_03_23&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_056a405b5a-f551eb7516-166405629&mc_cid=f551eb7516&mc_eid=51c77f5c33

    Liked by 1 person

  3. On target. I particularly like the part about the weather. anything to stop complainers from going on and on and on…….if Henry were here I am sure he would agree!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Regan, I am so in sync with this — purging my stuff as I write memoirs about their data before sending them to the trash/recycling.

    But Regan without a dog? I can’t imagine. (Though I can no longer take care of a cat or be sure I won’t trip on one. Hmmm.) Sending love, Carol

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Regan, Great essay. I spent part of the morning in storage compartment, taking mental inventory. Now I have a plan and order for the divestment, which I began today. So far no sentimental blockages. Lovely tribute to Henry and your deep caring and connection. xoxo Kristina

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s