Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Someone told me recently that I am "young at heart". That sounds good to me.
I guess I am young at heart. I hope so. Seventy-six sounds so very, very old. Well, it IS very, very old. I do get annoyed at doctors when I mention my age. Every one of them immediately interrupts me to assure me that age is only a number and I should be "thinking young". Doctors, of all people, should be able to deal with the fact of age - and help us deal with it. You learn not to mention the word "age" or the word "death" to a doctor. They jump right on it and decide that you must be depressed. I am not depressed. But I am intelligent enough to know that I am old, and that I will die soon. It shouldn't come as news to them, nor to anyone. It doesn't bother me - It's just a fact of life. You live, you grow old, and eventually you die. I don't think death is anything to fear, or even to worry about, so why are they so touchy about it?
The thing is, people keep suggesting things like going to the Senior Center. I don't do that. It's fine for a lot of people. It isn't for me. I don't like old people much. One at a time - or a couple - that's OK. We enjoy conversation, reminisce. We have the same memories, and that's a good thing. But a whole room full of old people? No thank you. I enjoy being with young people, or with a group of all ages together. Old people forget things, and repeat themselves. Oh, yes. I forget things all the time, and repeat myself, too. But I don't want to listen to all those other old people doing it. And some old people are really rude! They seem to think that age gives them the right to do and say whatever they please, regardless of what it does to the people around them. Or maybe they are angry and frustrated because they are unable to do things they used to, and they take it out on others.
There's a problem with being young at heart. You forget that the body just won't cooperate any more. You try to jump up impulsively and do whatever it is you just thought of, only you're stopped halfway through the jump, and you have to sit back down and rethink it.
Perversely, I get very impatient with my children because they don't seem to understand that I am old. They expect me to act just the way I used to. I can't. I think that adult children tend to continue for a long time to think of their parents as they did when they were twelve years old. And even later, as they begin to realize that the parent is older, they really don't want to believe that he or she is no longer able to do things as they used to. It took me about a year and a half to persuade my son to build me a handicap ramp. He kept telling me I didn't need one. Ironically, the incident that finally did persuade him and sent him running out to buy the lumber, really had nothing to do with my need for it. He saw me fall. I was just walking across the lawn, and must have slipped or something, and went down. It made an impression on him, even though I wasn't struggling to get up the steps.
It's kind of weird being old, and not feeling old. If I'm in a crowded waiting room, and an elderly person comes in, I still feel the impulse to jump up and give them my seat. And it still takes me by surprise when people do something like that for me. But it's nice!
The gray hair and the cane definitely do bring certain advantages.