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那些“我老了以后一定要做到”的事

更新时间:2017-12-7 19:12:49 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Thing I’ll Do Differently When I’m Old
那些“我老了以后一定要做到”的事

Soon after my 50th birthday, 10 years ago, I started keeping a list of “Things I will do/things I won’t do when I get old.”

十年前,就在我50岁生日刚过不久,我开始列一个“我老了以后会做的/不会做的事情”的清单。

It was a highly judgmental, and super secret, accounting of all the things I thought my parents were doing wrong. My dad lied chronically about taking his meds. He refused to get a hearing aid, telling others to “up their audio” (he had been a television producer). My mom smoked behind my back (she thought) until the day she was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was all too easy to call them out, and I recognized over and over just how awful it is to become feeble, sick and increasingly absent-minded, or worse.

这是一份极其苛刻、高度私密的清单,记下了所有我认为父母做得不对的事。我的父亲在吃药这件事上总是习惯性地撒谎。他拒绝配助听器,还让别人“把音频提一提”(他之前是电视制片人)。我的母亲(自以为)瞒着我偷偷抽烟,直到有一天被诊断出肺癌。要揭穿他们太容易了,我一次又一次地认识到,人的身体开始虚弱、患病,越来越健忘,或者有什么更大的毛病,是多么糟糕。

Over the next decade I accumulated many pages of dos and don’ts, even as I fretted about exactly when I’d be old enough to start following my own advice. Recently I heard a sociologist on the radio call people in their early 60s, “the young old.” I imagine that my “young adult” nieces might consider me “old, old” already, but I don’t feel ready yet to start taking my own advice. I’m still working on building my list, not implementing it.

接下来的十年里,我把“该做”和“不该做”的事积累了很多页,即使我有时会苦恼,因为不知道自己何时才能开始遵守自己的建议。最近,我从电台里听到一个社会学家把60岁的人称为“年轻老人”。我想,我的“年轻成年”外甥女或许已经把我当成“老老人”了,但要开始听从自己的建议,我觉得自己还没准备好。我还在努力扩展我的清单,而不是在实践它。

The entries on that list reflect my frustration of seeing the price my parents paid for their stubbornness. Take my mother’s terrifying driving, for instance. A growing number of fender benders, and worse, didn’t faze her, and she would not listen to any talk of her fading ability behind the wheel. In desperation, I reported Mom to the D.M.V. and they called her in for a road test. She failed it, and her license was revoked. It humiliated Mom, and tormented me.

清单上收录的,反映了我的不满——对那些在我看来是父母因为顽固而付出的代价的不满。就拿我母亲吓人的车技举例吧。小事故或更大一些的事故不断增多,但对她毫无影响。她也听不进任何有关她驾驶能力退化的劝告。走投无路之下,我向机动车辆管理局(D.M.V.)举报了她,他们通知她去参加路考。她没有通过,驾照被吊销了。这让她感到丢脸,也让我感到折磨。

Here’s how it appears on my list:

我的清单上是这么写的:

“If my driving capability is questioned, I will not reject the comment out of hand because I am afraid of losing my independence. I hope there will be self-driving cars by then. If nothing else works, I hope someone will turn me in.”

“如果有人质疑我的驾驶能力,我不会因为害怕丧失独立性而马上拒绝别人的建议。我希望到时能有无人驾驶的汽车。如果别的办法都不管用了,我希望有人可以去举报我。”

My biggest worry as I watched my parents grow old was their increasing physical frailty. Who hasn’t heard that hip fractures from falls are a leading cause of death among the elderly? I know my father had, if only because we talked about it with him ad nauseam. I pointed out the consequences of his own mother’s pride in refusing a cane or walker: At age 84, Grandma fell while riding the New York City subway alone, and that fall led over the months that followed to her death.

看着父母变老,我最大的担忧就是他们愈加虚弱的身体。谁没听说过老年人的主要死亡原因是摔倒导致的髋骨骨折?我知道我父亲是听过的,但不过也只是因为我们不厌其烦地和他说了又说。我指出了他的母亲不愿使用拐杖或助行器的自尊心带来的后果:祖母在独自乘坐纽约地铁时摔倒,导致她在几个月后去世,终年84岁。

After literally hundreds of falls, none of which persuaded him to accept help or use a walker, Dad, at 87, finally came down hard and broke four ribs. That accident jump-started the slide that led to his death. I ask myself: Will my self-awareness triumph over my own (apparently genetic) stubbornness?

几乎快上百次的摔倒都没能说服父亲同意接受帮助或使用助行器。87岁时,他终于重重地摔了一跤,四根肋骨骨折。自那场事故后,他的身体每况愈下,直到去世。我问自己:我的自我意识能否战胜自己(显然是遗传)的固执呢?

So on my list is what I told my dad time and again:

所以,清单上是我对我父亲再三说过的话:

“I’ll try to remember that the best way to stay independent is to accept smaller degrees of dependence or assistance. I’ll use a walker rather than fall and break bones.”

“我会努力记住,保持独立最好的方式便是接受轻度的依赖或帮助。我会使用助行器,而不是摔断骨头。”

A friend of mine put it this way: “I will use a walker so I won’t fall, even when it wrecks my outfit.” Designer walkers, anyone?

我的一个朋友这么写:“我会使用助行器,才能避免跌倒,就算它会弄破我的衣服。”设计师款助行器,有人要吗?

I’ll admit that vanity drives a number of my dos and don’ts. About eight years in I wrote:

我承认,其中一些“要做”和“不要做”事项是虚荣心所致。大概在第八年的时候,我写道:

“I will not blame the family dog on my lap for my incontinence. I will choose the humiliation of wearing adult diapers over the humiliation of wetting my bed and having someone else clean the sheets.”

“我不会因为自己大小便失禁,就把过错推给正趴在我腿上的家狗。我宁可接受穿成人尿布的羞耻,也不愿接受自己尿床后还要让别人帮我收拾床单的羞耻。”

For years, my dad chose the latter. Heck, maybe I’ll even grow in my self-acceptance so that I won’t view incontinence as humiliation.

多年以来,我父亲都选择了后者。搞不好我都能培养起足够的自我认同,不再把大小便失禁当成耻辱。

I also want to maintain some style. Right until the end my mother, who died earlier this year, continued to have her hair styled and colored, and her manicured nails painted her trademark Jungle Red. I wrote:

我也想保持一点儿时尚。今年去世的母亲在最后的日子里也一直在染发、做发型,指甲也做成了她标志性的丛林红色。我写道:

“If I can’t take care of my personal grooming any more, I will find help. If I don’t care about my personal grooming any more, I will find different help.” At the very least I want to be clean — and smell fresh, like Mom — so people sit by me and hold my hand.

“如果我不能自己梳洗了,我会寻求帮助。如果我不再在意自己的梳妆打扮了,我会寻求别的帮助。至少我希望自己是干净的——和母亲一样,闻起来要清新——这样才有人愿意坐在我旁边,拉我的手。”

“Whiten teeth” is also on my list. A friend of mine has this entry on her list: “Wear pants that touch the tops of my shoes at least.”

“洁牙”也在我的清单上。我的一个朋友在她的清单上写了这一条:“至少要穿能碰到鞋面的裤子。”

My list also acknowledges my quickness to anger, which is a trait I shared with both parents. A year before Mom’s death her aide repeatedly asked her to do some post-surgical breathing exercises prescribed by the oncologist, but which she hated doing because they were challenging. One afternoon, Mom, in deep frustration, lashed out at the aide using language I’m too embarrassed to repeat, and I was the one who took the aide’s call of justified complaint. Onto my list went:

我的清单也承认了我易怒的特点,这是我和父母共有的。母亲去世的一年前,她的护工再三地要求她进行肿瘤医生要求的术后呼吸练习,但她讨厌这么做,因为做起来很困难。一个下午,极度沮丧的母亲冲护工大发脾气,骂着一些我都不好意思重复的话,而那个护工打来的合理的投诉电话,接听的人是我。我在清单上写道:

“If I’m hurt or angry by what’s happening to me or my body, I will do my best not to take it out on those who are closest to me.”

“如果我因为一些发生在我身上的事情、或是我身体的问题感到受伤或者生气,我会尽我所能不对与我最亲近的人发脾气。”

“I will be kind.”

“我会友善。”

“I will apologize.”

“我会道歉。”

As I march onward from 60, I continue to pay attention and maintain my list. But I remain mindful of what one friend told me: “The important thing is to remember no matter how much we tell ourselves we won’t be like our parents, no matter how hard and fast we run in the other direction, we become them.”

当我迈入60岁时,我仍然会留意、记录清单。但我一直记着一个朋友对我说的:“重要的是要记住,不论我们如何告诉自己,不要变得像我们的父母一样,不论我们朝着另一个方向跑得多用力、多快,我们都会变成他们。”

Please, no!

拜托,别这样!

Ironically, I have some guidance on that as well. My grandmother, the one who fell on the subway, once made a similar list, which I found among my father’s papers. Hers included:

讽刺的是,我对此也有一些方法。我在父亲的文件里发现,我那位在地铁上摔倒的祖母也曾列过一个相似的清单。她的清单包括:

1. Do not fall.

1. 不要摔倒;

2. Work on controlling forgetfulness

2. 努力控制健忘;

3. Think before you speak

3. 思考过后再开口;

4. Eat moderately and no rich desserts

4. 适度饮食,不吃油腻的甜品;

5. Do the best you can. Learn by your errors.

5. 尽自己可能地做到最好,从错误中学习。

I certainly hope to learn from her errors, and my parents’, and avoid making too many of my own. Mostly I hope to be able to judge when to stop adding to the list, and start following its advice.

我当然希望能从她的、还有我的父母的错误中学习,也避免让自己犯太多错误。我主要还是希望能判定自己何时能不再记录清单,而是开始按这份清单的建议行事。

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