|Jack has gone from sleek and toned to tubular. His body is a short segment of drainage culvert covered with blond shag carpet left out in the weather. His spryness is now lumbering. As the kibble rattles into the dish he gathers his strength to slide off the couch, waddles to the kitchen, and haltingly slumps himself on the floor to eat. I wonder if he can remember jumping off the ground to grab a hedge ball from a tree branch, swimming alongside a canoe, or catching rabbits. The rabbits would laugh now, although they too would be old and would likely need artificial hips.
Moe has become leaner, bony. He trots and hops but toothlessly in the cataract-ed dimness that makes every shadow an ambush. This is how breeds whose names begin with "miniature" age, graying, yowling when a foot, hip or ankle moves to a position it is no longer fit to go or when scratched too hard against some subcutaneous tenderness.
At 79 my mom is suddenly, transformationally, old. There was a buoyant spurt of activity following my dad’s death. In his long feeble winter anyone next to his pale, waxed-paper skin would look young, and feel bridled, restricted to his inactivity and by his uninterrupted care. When he passed and the hospice bed was removed from the dining room, she tore up the stained carpet and pad and, by herself, laid down a new wood floor. She cut down the pistachio tree that had grown over the roof and brushed its branches against the shingles. She re-established the long path through the field to walk the dog. She built two ukuleles starting essentially from logs, she cleared a path in garage to get her bicycle back out, and she went kayaking. Now, about six-weeks on, she is old. She dozes through the afternoon in a recliner. Her conversation turns to the things that throb or spasm or twinge. She lifts herself from the chair gently. In the unseasonable 50s of this December that should be 20s, she notes the cold. She finally goes gray. Perhaps she is just settling in, giving up pretense.