To be Old

In youth we can’t imagine what it’s like to be old. We sometimes lived our lives like there’s no tomorrow, squandering our time, abilities, material goods. Taking what we have for granted until we lose them or deplete them into nothingness. Perhaps, thinking that we will always be youthful, strong, alert, sharp and clear in mind, and body.

As spring turns to summer then autumn, youth fades gradually, the sparkle slowly dims, the whirlwind of life slows down. Tiredness and fatigue begin to dominate. Our worries and concerns change. In youth, we lived for the moment, believing we could take on any challenge. When we grew older we had to face the realities of our individual lives – the wider community did count, even if it was for our own self-interest, our own selfish ends, our self-centered profit and self-preservation. It was time to establish oneself, make our mark even if it was small. Self satisfaction was a necessity. The continuity of our line, imperative for most. But, for some to live for the moment counted more.

Then, pension schemes became necessities as time wore on in it’s daily humdrum routine. Some of us, plunged into adventure in youth, living like rolling stones that gather no moss but soon see a blank future. So, we hunker down into gathering some security in bank accounts to fall back on. Others bravely hope Providence will protect them in time of need. Time walks rapidly and we struggle to keep up with it.

Soon, the young ones seem to ignore us. Just beginning the cycle we had passed not so long ago, or was it? We notice the sagging cheeks, the crows feet at the corners of our eyes, the deepening lines on either side of the mouth. Am I looking back at me in the mirror? Who is the hag with the thinning, greying hair? The title “Auntie” comes as a shock! Get used to it, you’re no spring chicken.

We often look back on our lives, nostalgia sets in, especially with people we seem to have known for ages. The bitter-sweet taste of the past and the present. As we grow older, the past comes back like it happened yesterday, the present fades in our memory. We can’t remember what we just said or why we had gone to the utility cupboard. Is this the onset of dementia or worse, Alzheimer?

If I leave the safety and familiarity of my home, will I be able to come back? What if I forgot where I lived, and once familiar and routine paths suddenly became unfamiliar and strange? Where do I live, I don’t know…My grandma fell asleep on a bus once and went right to the end, she wasn’t sure where to stop but made a lucky guess on the way back. We never allowed her to travel alone again.

The aches and pains of body mechanisms breaking down. Falling asleep in mid conversation but being unaware of it. The more spritely take to optimism and look at the funny side of old age. To be thought senile may have its advantages, a license to act as you please, even if they think you’re barmy!

Don’t despise the aged, they have lived longer than you. Some have seen violence, fear, hopelessness, depravation, war… some are unsung heroes. Living by their wits, building a future for the next generations with hope and vision.

Youth like old age is transient, scoff not at the old hag or the hobbling old codger, bent like a question mark. Your time will come and you too will be that question mark.

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