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I was going to start this post with a definition of “lose”, but when I went to, there were a couple dozen definitions (gotta love the English language!).

Maybe I should start at the beginning:

I had a career in ElderCare.  Frailty.  Dementia.  Illness.  and inevitably Death.  So many things in those days were Givens.

Part of that career included teaching a Seniors’ Fitness class.  That class was all women and they became more than friends over the course of the 15 years we were together.  10 years ago I moved cities to take care of my dementing mother so, of course, no longer taught the class.  One woman used the computer and she became that slender thread of communication that kept me in the loop about these women.

While many of the notes back and forth reminisced about the fun, the silliness, the songs, the love, there were the inevitable emails that said someone had lost her vision and was legally blind; that said someone else had lost so much mobility they’d gone into care; that another woman was suffering memory loss and had moved to live with family.

And then, a month ago I received a phone call tenuously asking if I would come back and lead the class for two weeks while the regular instructor was away.  I laughed and reminded the caller that I hadn’t lead a class for 10 years.  Her response explained there was a slightly… shall we say “political” reason for her request.  I empathized, and laughed, and said “Of course”.  If you check back on my Facebook feed you’ll see the post that yelled “What have I just agreed to?”  It was 4 hours on the road for a 1 hour class but these women held such a place in my heart that fact didn’t even enter the equation.

The two weeks have ended and I must admit to some sadness that only half the class was from my era.  The woman with the lost vision was still there thanks to the support of others but the women with the memory losses and the mobility losses weren’t, and of course some had died.

That’s when I had my Aha! moment.  I’m not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me before because some of the people I’ve met in care were smart, with brilliant careers. The women from the exercise class, however, were friends.

Which brings me full circle back to the word “lose”.  Almost every definition included a feeling a volition.

He lost his hat.  a dime.  a job.  a fortune.  She was lost in the crowd, he lost a bet, the clock lost three minutes a day.

So why do we use that same verb to describe the onset of a frailty?

Smart, happy people are not going to lose their vision, or their mobility, or their memory.  These things are stolen away from them.  Pilfered over time, sometimes so slowly that neither the victim nor their family notice for the longest time.

Ok, I’m off my soapbox now.

It’s like one of those optical illusions though – once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it.

I know some of you will say it’s just semantics… but I know my friends – they would never just lose a piece of their life or their history.

You can tell me to get lost now if you wish!