Part of my inspiration for posting this today is the blog post from Osiris Ramos (http://osirisramos.wordpress.com/): I Would Like to be Old (posted 8-23-12).
A chat with Mom
I started writing this post a few days ago after speaking with Mom. In fact the title of this post is a direct quote from her.
Although I’m not as old as my mother, I know what she means. The physical problems that come with age are not negligible. Some are lucky and maintain most of their physical and mental capabilities, but there are many who are defeated by their declining health. I would guess that the average age of a person living in my mother’s complex is about 85. A significant percentage of them are in fragile health
It takes a great amount of effort and strength to remain upbeat in a homogeneous environment where most of the residents are isolated, whose loved ones are not involved and where loneliness is probably rampant. A scene in 12 Angry Men illustrates another result of family disconnect. Lee J. Cobb, the angriest of the twelve, breaks down and rips up a picture of his son. He said, “You work your whole life…” breaks down in sobs. The anger at his isolation from his son seems to have taken over his life.
My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting my mother and spending time with her where she currently lives. The campus of this independent living center is quite stunning. The grounds are kept up; beautiful trees and flowers abound. It is a bit isolated, but there is transportation available to go shopping and cultural programs such as musical performances, lectures and discussions that take place on the campus. Mom met some very good bridge players and enjoys playing at any opportunity. She is a very good player and is improving all the time.
Who would want to be old?
I see the point of Osiris’s posting ‘I Would Like to be Old’. Looking back on fond memories from vantage point of age is very enticing – a romantic notion. I agree with Osiris: the one who said that youth is a bed of roses was probably thinking of the thorns. I, for one, would not want to live through youth a second time.
I am at the point in my life that some call “the youth of old age”. Let me put it this way: in the Jewish tradition, the saying goes, “may you live until 120”. The Torah says, “Moses was 120 years old when he died” (Deuteronomy 34:7). If the saying holds true for me, I’m merely middle aged.
Young for a very long time
I don’t think of myself as old, even though in some movies, people even younger than me are looked upon that way. “Man, did you see that old dude? He’s probably 50 or something.” Ouch! I think of myself as being young for a really, really long time. It does take some adjustment. The temporal landmarks change. When I was growing up, everyone remembered where he or she was when JFK was shot. Now it’s, “Who’s JFK?”
Keep your friends close and your family closer. Hopefully, when we move closer to Mom and get to visit more often, she won’t think that getting old stinks as much.