©Evan Nichols, 2012

Light bulbs are important, more so when people get old, like me. One little light goes out, and lord, (I am writing this in semidarkness) what do I do now?  Where did I put the new ones and can I reach them? Are they the white curlicues? Are they the green ones? And do I care? No, because I’ve got to see. So I will have to find what’s up in the closet shelf where I think I’ve put the bulbs, not one of them green or curly because I bought them long ago on sale at Ikea and also so the Boys and Girls Club could flourish. I wish I had put them somewhere down below except that’s where the dustpan, which I never use, sits along with five cans of bug spray which I do. Getting on a ladder is out of the question. So is climbing onto a stepstool. For, you see, I am on a @#$% walker. Because I tripped on a curb and fell down. On the sidewalk. In full view of the entire neighborhood. And dislocated my shoulder. And broke my pelvis in two places.

Very nice people got me up while I proclaimed no pain, no injury, no fallout whatsoever: “I’m fine.” I probably should not have walked to the emergency room then and definitely should not have walked from there back home. But there is no pride like the pride of old people determined not to be old, useless, dependent, trash-heap ready. Therefore, we are ripe for humiliation. Pride Goeth Before A Fall. If that means that pride disappears in the event of a fall, it’s wrong. Pride is right there from the initial stumble to the vain attempt to maintain one’s balance, and especially at the end, when one is face-down on the sidewalk and one’s first thought is “What if somebody sees me?” If, on the other hand, it means Beware! Don’t get too confident, too convinced of your immunity to pain and humiliation, because if you do, you’re ripe for a fall, a laugh from the twisted mouth of fate, well then, I’d have to agree. “I told you so!” That’s not fair.

Forget fair. We gave up on that sometime in our forties. So is it ridiculous to hope for dignity? Or is that something dreamed up by the same people who thought up that irritating The Golden Years? Dignity is at the top of the scale; humiliation is at the bottom, so I am right now putting a claim on Dignity on behalf of all people over seventy. People younger than that don’t have dignity; they have other stuff: youth, agility, energy, balance, who needs dignity? We old people have earned the right to as much dignity as we can convince others we have. White hair is a good start. A walker is not. Stay off one if at all possible.

©Jane Juska, 2012

BAWP 1982 and 1984. A writer after that.

7 Responses to “After the Fall by Jane Juska”

  1. Bob Pressnall Says:

    I love you, Jane
    I don’t know what’s it’s like to be over 64 – and the ’70’s are a decade I prefer not to dwell on – but I do believe in the dignity you talk about. And that’s why you’re a teacher/writer, for the benefit of those of us who need to warm up to, practice, pretend, emulate, fantasize about or whatever it takes to get a little dignity under our skin, close to the heart. Dignity must be a new beginning at any age, any moment, always available, no matter if we’re in the cradle or on our deathbed. Humiliation is short-term; dignity is long-term. Thanks for the reminder.
    See you soon!

  2. steve tollefson Says:

    Absolutely love the descriptions, Jane. Ok, I’ll get the dignity later, but in the meantime, “What if somebody sees me?” is one I’ve used more than my fair share of times And maybe getting older just means turning into a Norwegian-American. We specialize in walking ourselves to the emergency room with a broken pelvis. It’s great when someone else captures so beautifully experiences and attitudes that most of us have had but have not articulated. Thanks.


  3. Darlene Rose DeMaria Says:

    The FALL yes the FALL. I experienced my mother’s FALL and the years after, that changed life for me and for her. The spiritual lessons I am still learning, as I catch my breath and my steps step up a bit, as I walk on down the path with the hope of not having that FALL. A wish with my fairy god mothers that what I have already experienced at the end of the road and now slowly walking back as I catch my breath and take up my 60’s banner with the hope that I will not have my own FALL. A sneak peek of such a denouement seems to have changed my deepest parts of me to redirect my time here on this great mother earth to not have to accept that DNA will light my way but rather LIGHT will light my own path. A path that will not FALL. I enjoyed your “insights” so many lines sparked my pictures new and old. Thank you, Darlene Rose DeMaria

  4. Yve Johnson Says:

    just reading your “round heeled woman” and admire your courage and honesty. You deserve to have met a loving partner and I hope you have.
    very best wishes, Yve

  5. Arlene Herrington Says:

    I first read one of your articles in the August 2008 Vogue and thought – thank you, lord – there is someone else like me. You made me laugh and gave me hope……..are you still w/that lover? I hope so……..Arlene


    I have come late to your writing, but have so enjoyed both books. I have since scoured the net to find various articles you have written and have thouroughly enjoyed all I’ve found. Please keep writing. Linda

  7. Sally anne Says:

    Hi Jane so sorry to hear about your fall your stoicism would be at home here in Scotland – just read your book (2nd – must now get hands on first) laughed and cried loved it. I do so hope you’ve managed to afford a house at last. Xxxx-it’s hard being a single woman!

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