Over the last week, in addition to Notre Dame, so much seemed to be falling apart or perishing. In my world, more friends died. My house was invaded with ants and stinkbugs. A mouse got trapped in the kitchen sink. Two unopened containers of yogurt expired. My car’s rear brakes wore out completely and had to be replaced. My back went out.
And early one morning when the dog was squealing her gotta-go-potty noises, I tried to let her outside and discovered the knob on the front door wouldn’t unlock the deadbolt. The back door had quit working just two weeks earlier. Horrified that I couldn’t exit the house north or south, I phoned a locksmith.
“It’s lived the end of its life,” George at Ace Security said about the doorknob. Not exactly the message I needed to hear, being thoroughly invested in the challenges of living forever and trying to keep life going for my household and various ailing friends. Plus, being obsessed with loss and death, the idea that even inanimate objects can have lifespans really bugged me.
“How old is that doorknob anyway?” George asked, certain I had an ancient house with parts that had never been replaced.“Only twenty years old,” I answered, suddenly realizing my daughter was only twenty when she got to the end of her life.
So. How long is a lifetime? In Google it says that in the tiny country of Monaco, people live an average of 89 years. The average life expectancy for Americans is 78.7 with women living 5 years longer than men. Greenland sharks live 400 years. A friend is rehoming her 11-year-old macaw that will live another 40 to 70 years with multiple new owners. The mayfly only lives 24 hours. A typical lifetime for a car is 10 to 15 years although I usually sell mine after 6, and I hear 20-year-old Toyota Corollas still cruise the road. A home can last hundreds of years with diligent maintenance and timely renovations. The plastic bags I hoard in my closets take 10 to 1000 years to decompose, but if you bring a pint of rum raisin ice cream to my house it’ll be gone in nanoseconds.
Notre Dame was over 800 years old.
It was the week the daffodils finally started popping. Fresh, young flowers that will be gone before this new week is over. I can see them waving in the wind, just outside the aging front door which is falling apart even further as it awaits new parts. Twenty years. Seems too short for a lifetime, even for a doorknob.
What lasts forever? Or almost forever? What is the oldest thing you still own? Who is or was the oldest living relative in your family?