Monday, January 17, 2011

Some Thoughts On Ageing

The other day when I was volunteering at a local nursing home one of the residents named Terry who has all of her faculties, but her legs gave out and has her in a battery operated wheel chair, engaged me in conversation and bet she was younger than me. Laughingly I told her my birthday and when she told me hers it seemed she was correct. I was a year older! After I got her to her destination this revelation gave me pause to reflect. "Holy s**t", I thought, as I looked around at my surroundings filled with residents, "... am I looking at my future?". Time has a way of speeding by, wasn't it yesterday I was only ten and telling my friends that living to 3o years old seemed plenty to me?

When I was young, I used to say younger but after this revelation I realize the "er" doesn't apply, I wondered what old people thought about, now I know and sometimes it ain't pretty, but sometimes it is. When I was very young I thought about being older, you know a teenager, a high schooler, and playing ball, making music, and most of all meeting pretty girls. These noble desires stayed with me until I married then most of my thoughts reached the survival mode. Had a lot of kids, pets and extended family. Most of all I had a wife who I loved a great deal and never wanted to seem like a failure to her. I still pursued the "good times" but not as vigorously. I suddenly stopped wanting to be older. As I reached 30 I realized my pronouncement to my friends that this age seemed like "enough" was foolish and perhaps 40 or 50 would be more appropriate especially since I had to continue to supply food, shelter and clothing while I never embarrassed myself to my wife who I continued to love more and more. During these middle years, music making, ball playing and the pursuit of pretty girls ceased, not all at once but slowly and surely.

Once 50 was reached I realized that I had to stop putting limits on the age that was "enough". It has taken me a while but I am not sure what age is "enough" but this much I am sure of that it isn't the age it is the mental and physical health, once they decline it is time to go, "ENOUGH". In many ways I miss my youth. I'd like to get up in the morning and not wait a half hour or so until my body tells me it doesn't hurt so much. I'd like to have my wife by my side, we slept in a queen size bed, a single bed is kind of lonely and when the covers come off, cold. I miss being relevant to survival of a family. In many ways as we grow older we lose a great deal of relevancy. Some but not all days it would be good to have a job to go to on a steady basis.

On the plus side it is good to wake up and have my feet hit the floor and get ready for another day with all it's charms and mysteries. It is good to be free to do whatever I want without the encumbrances  that responsibilities of a family, job and all those things that go with youth, like sending your kid off to college. It is good to volunteer for my peers who are not as lucky as I am as they have lost the ability, be it mental or physical, to take care of themselves. It is good to see that my children and grandchildren, are still here with me. They are all going through the struggles I did when I was their ages. Hopefully they are smarter than I was but mistakes will be made and they will become stronger because of overcoming obstacles.

Many of my peers worry about survival for many reasons but the prevalent one is the fear of being alone. The loss of a support group. The second fear is the loss of independence. The ability to drive, and get around on their own. In this way so far I have been very fortunate. About four and a half years ago my house was destroyed by a lightening hit, my mother, brother died within four months of this hit. My wife died about 2 years later. My large family rallied round and I certainly am not alone as they provided support that is unmeasurable. So far I have retained my independence. Soon I shall reach the age that is "enough" but not yet. So for those of you who may wonder what an old guy thinks about the question comes up "Would you want to be young again?". The answer is no, it is just too much trouble, besides I like where I am now!
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