Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Better than the alternative

Wait a minute. If time heals all wounds, how come my skin is less resilient – not more - and I tire sooner? How come doctors ask me during check-ups things that would be considered too much information to post?

And, if it’s a well-known fact that age spares no one, why do I always find the evidence completely unexpected? Who do I think I am, believing it will not happen to me?

Never mind me. Is nothing sacred anymore? Even my larger than life, superhero parents seem to show (minor, barely visible) symptoms of this disrespectful condition. (Which, of course, you’d only notice under extremely harsh, bright lighting.)

Wait another minute. Isn’t old age supposed to be The Golden Years? The promising Future? Potential incarnate? Isn’t it the time when you don’t have to work anymore and can kick back and do whatever you want?

And what about the sense of peace that comes with it, the dignity of looking back at what you have sowed? Isn’t it all about the reaping?

And if I feel exactly like I did twenty years ago – until someone calls me ma’am – where the heck is my dose of wisdom, the one I’m entitled to after living to what people call (yuck) middle age?

Alas, Elizabeth, whatever happened to “Grow old with me, the best is yet to be”?

There is a massive public relations conspiracy about the joys of getting older. I don’t buy it. Getting old sucks.

My grandmother in law is 97. And, let me tell you, she’s had it. It’s not that she’s sad – it’s just that she’s done. The man she loved died almost twenty years ago and since that day she’s just waiting to join him. She is a strong, healthy, no-nonsense, super organized lady, lives alone, and hates it when anyone fusses over her. She saves everything – even wrappers, as she’s lived through two World Wars. She is a woman of few words and yet you always know where she stands on everything from water (never drinks it – just red wine) to her youngest grandson (worships the ground he walks on and is sure one day he will sprout wings.)

Luca (the aforementioned grandson) and I often talk about her fate. How when you get to that age you’ve lost everything. By way of example, everyone you know has died – your family, your friends, your friend’s children. It’s no way to live.

Yesterday, Luca and I were at the theater. During intermission, an elderly couple was slowly making their way up the stairs. They were leaning on each other, and she was wincing with every step. Luca got up and asked if he could help. The man turned to him and smiled. “No” he said. “But, do me a favor. Don’t ever get old”.

Living to a hundred is not all it’s cracked up to be. Oscar Wilde was right. The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.

4 comments:

Miguel Cane said...

Or rather,

that one is young wishing he *was* old. You've heard of course, the saying: "Youth is the only disease time can cure".

I don't see youth as a disease. But rather, I get sometimes worried about not getting younger any more. I mean, I am in my thirties and I've just begun life on my own! My mother, at age 33 was already mother of two! My grandmother, at 33, was already living in the house she would live in for the rest of her human life!

And I am 33 and do not know where I'll be by 40! And I really do not fret about it!

It's strange to think of this... I do not regret my lost youth, for I don't think I've lost it... but I wish I would stay in my 30s forever. I saw my grandmother waste away till her late 80s. She was a wonderful, bright and spruce person, who turned into a strange pod. We loved her, nonetheless, but it's really hard to bear the erosion.

Oh, don't mind me. I am probably just making a hoopla out of nothing. I mean, I am 33. I look out the window, and see that the day is long. So, I am surely going to be here, on this day, till it's over. And then the next, I'll live it as it comes.

Einstein said, "I don't think about the future, it creeps up on you soon enough." I think exactly alike.

Have fun on your vacation, both of you.

Much love,

M

Anonymous said...

“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”
—Samuel Ullman

Micaela ; )

David said...

I think my grandfather was 97 before he finally admitted he was 'old'. He was cycling until the age of 95 and loved the simple pleasures of a walk in the fresh air, a visit from his son, or a nice sugar sandwich until he was past 99. On this 100th birthday he said "I wish it could be my birthday every day".

George Burns was right when he said, "If you live to be a hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age!"

Life is tough at the age of 35. Or middle-age, whatever that is! But it doesn't have to suck. Neither does being old, especially when we'll probably be able to have entire body transplants by the time we get to that age.

Carol Miller said...

Since I, myself, am getting old and am surrounded by people who are old and ailing, I have to confess, that years ago, when I said I wanted to live to be 500...well, you can cancel that. I agree with Dushka. It's a bummer, and that's from someone who, outside of mental illness, is essentially healthy, vital and productive (God willing). Problem: people are living longer, and that, in an already crowded world. What will come of it? You don't want to know!