Sunday, April 6, 2008

Out Living Youth

Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age. Nothing does -- except wrinkles. It's true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place. ~Abigail Van Buren~

The young have aspirations that never come to pass, The old have Reminiscences of what never happened~ Saki~

Every Birthday, you decide whether to mark it the end of your greatest days or the beginning of your finest hour. ~ Oprah Winfrey~

Americans are living longer than ever before. With better health care, early screenings and people choosing healthier lifestyles, this trend is expected to continue. In Fact, the population of elderly is expected to increase. It is estimated that by the year 2040 the Old folks will account for twenty-three percent of all Americans. Nearly one half of those will be over the age of Eighty-five! I plan to still be here annoying my kids and Grand kids when My age group is the largest of all age groups.

When I was very young I always thought my Daddy was very old. This was when he was in his late thirties and early forties. I was always sure he would fall over and die any second. And yet he lived on. The older I got The more his oldness multiplied in my mind and yet he lived on till I was an adult and had began to feel old myself. My Daddy died of Congestive heart failure at sixty-six years old. It was then that I decided that Daddy was quiet young. Especially too young to die. My Mother has reached the ripe old age of seventy-four and as far as I am concerned she is way to young to die. She has some health issues and has lived with both myself and my oldest sister for small amounts of time. But she wants to live alone in her own home. She says she likes doing her own thing. That bothered me. My Mama isn't supposed to be doing a THING. I thought she was too old! Then she reminded me that she is only twenty five years older than me. That really isn't all that much older. She likes her lifestyle. She says she gets lonely sometimes. She knows she could live with some of her children. There are eight of us she could travel around from one house to the other and never get tired of any of us but Like most older people, she wants her own home, Her own lifestyle.The elderly are no different that any of the rest of us. We all want to do things our own way! I do and I'd bet you do too.

I used to run a small day care. I have kept hundreds of children either in my home or when I worked in the day care field for someone else. I have kept bad kids and sweet angelic cherubs. I have changed diapers and wiped noses. I have read stories and watched Disney movies for many years. But I have given that up. I had decided last year that I had to have a break from all of that. It had got to the point that I needed a time out! I had been resting from having a job And then came the phone call from My oldest Brother. He and his wife needed a baby sitter they said. They never doubted whether or not I could do it. They never questioned whether I'd be good at it or not. They hoped I would accept their offer of a new line of work. After talking to them both I accepted their offer and thus began my new Job!

I have always known Miss Kathleen. I have always liked her as well. She and I are both word lovers. She has wonderful stories of how she met her Husband in Liverpool ,England during the second world war. She tells me those wonderful stories every day. And I listen carefully and ask questions of her every day. She loves to be heard. She loves to talk. She and I talk all day some days. Miss Kat is 84. She is forgetful. She has fallen before and broke her hip. She is afraid of falling. She has a walker but she tries not to use that. I encourage her to use it but she doesn't like it because it makes her look old she says. I told her that she was old. In fact I told her she was older than the devils own dirt. She laughed out loud when I told her that and she said to me. " Yes child I know WE are but One never wants to show their true age." And so there she and I sat laughing the day through at the idea that we had out lived the devils own dirt. Miss Kat is lucky. She has been in the nursing home for recovery when she broke her hip. She doesn't want to go back. As long as her health allows she will be living happily with her daughter. She is lucky she has family that wants her to be happy. Not all of the elderly are so blessed.

My Grandmother was in a nursing home. We made long trips every weekend to see her and visit her as long as she lived. Her health was poor, her memory all gone and we weren't equipped to care for her at home. We would have loved to but some times circumstances make that impossible. Grandma was also lucky. She was well cared for and her children cared enough to visit. Not all of the elderly are lucky. Even some with Family aren't treated well.

We all see it on the news occasionally. We tend not to really notice though. Someone has harmed and old person somewhere. We comment that we wouldn't stand for that if we were old. But we wouldn't really have a choice. Sometimes the remains of an older person is found and they have been dead for a long time. We tend not to pay that much attention either. Except to wonder why no one smelled them. We may see an elderly person sitting in a hot car in front of a supermarket. Do we not realize that they are dehydrating as they sit there in the sweltering heat? Or do we see them and look away. If you leave a dog in the hot car they will arrest you. But go ahead and leave Great Aunt Sue. No one will notice. Great Aunt Sue has outlived her youth. We will ignore her from now on. She will be shoved into a nursing home and never checked on if she doesn't have family. And even then she may go weeks and months and even years without a VISITOR. There are many things the nursing staff can do for their childlike elderly patients. Most nursing homes have wonderful caring nurses and helpers. They keep the people in their care clean and fed and comfortable but they are overwhelmed with the numbers. They do all they can. Sometimes it isn't enough.

With improved health care we all stand a chance of living into our eighties, nineties or even for some of us to the ripest of old age beyond One hundred. Last week in the obits in a local paper, the youngest person who had died was a wreck victim who was sixty three. As I sat there reading the obits I began to think of all the Old people I used to see when I visited Grandma. They would gather around and listen as we talked to her. Some would even talk to us as if they were giving us the answers that she couldn't. Since She either couldn't or wouldn't speak we often talked to her as if she was a child. One old lady once told me. " Don't talk to her like she is a fool and she won't look at you as if you are a fool."I never spoke to Grandma in a condescending tone again. I was afraid of her room mate.. I realized that they understood each other even If I understood neither of them.

I am forty eight years old. I know my children see me as very old. I expected that they would. It is the nature of the young to see us that way. Old and in a lot of areas they think we are foolish. They think we have outlived our youth. I figure if I am going to live well into my eighties that I will be older than dirt at around seventy five. Until then I am going to be a rocking and rolling Grandma. I am not going to be told what to do. I am going to do my own thing. Even if My children don't want me to have an own thing to do. And until then I am going to notice the elderly around me. I am going to learn from them now before they truly are gone. I am going to ask them to tell me their stories. Then I am going to actually listen as they do. If I see great Aunt sue sitting in your car in a hot parking lot I am going to call the police. Then I am going to ask her to roll the window down if she can and I will be standing there with her when you come out or the cops arrive which ever happens first. For your sake I hope it's the cops. So if you have a great aunt sue.. don't leave her in a parked car near me.

Finally I have a challenge for anyone who may read this. Do something kind for an elderly person. If you have one in your family, call them when you can spend ten minutes checking on them. If they call you, give them ten minutes of your time. If you have both Kids and older folks in your family. Get them together then sit back and watch the beautiful way they reach out to each other. I love to watch my Grandson read to Miss Kat every day. He reads his homework reading assignment sitting on a stool by her chair. They both enjoy it. But not nearly as much as I do. His young voice is free and strong as he reads her his second grade story. He relaxes and if he misses a word she never notices. He is relaxed so he rarely misses any but she wouldn't care. Her head is tilted just a little to the side and she listens as if the story is a wonderful thing to her. When he is done she always pats his hand and says.. " Wonderful, Simply wonderful. You are a great reader."Then they both grin at me and ask for "tater chips please". I try to take him to visit My Mother when I can. He loves her house. He says she has lots of stuff. And he likes that. If you don't have any old people in your family I am sure the nursing home near you would be happy to help you adopt a Grandma or grandpa from some of their old folks. They will know who would be better suited to a child of what ever age you may have. They will know who has no visitors for days, weeks, months and years. I plan to do what I can for the fastest growing group of Americans before I become one of them. Won't you join me in helping the aged before you too out live your youth? Be kind to the Elderly. Remember that they will most like get to God before you will. He will hear their side of the story first! I'm hoping when he hears about how I treated someone old, he will pleased. After all he is pretty old Himself.
Have a great day!


Lisa said...

"Be kind to the Elderly. Remember that they will most like get to God before you will. He will hear their side of the story first!"

Great, point (and a nice story).
- I enjoyed it very much.

Anonymous said...

Nana loves you so much. And you're such a blessing to us! I know I tell you that all the time but I can't tell you enough. Thank for all that you do - for listening and talking and loving so freely. It means more than you know. And Nana has truly bloomed. She adores you! We love ya Aunt Patsy!!

Pblacksaw said...

Thanks Phoebe. I enjoy it or I'd not do it.. You of course know this. I love you too!