The young and middle-aged take note:
By “oldie”, I mean people 70 years of age and beyond. Usually this is the age range when we are considered “old” by others and ourselves.
BEING AN OLDIE IS A TIME OF LOSSES. But there is some light in the present, after all we are still alive!
The first loss is the loss of youth and middle-age. What happened? It came so fast. Well, life has happened.
Along with youth, respect is lost. People don’t respect or notice oldies. So, what do we do? We create euphemisms, such as, “older”, “elderly”, or “senior citizen”.
To younger people, we oldies are invisible! Maybe we should jump up and down and talk louder.
Loss of interest in life is another problem. But what bothers me greatly is remembering my life as it was thirty or forty years ago and then coming back to the NOW.
Old age forgetfulness and grumpiness are forgiven by others, but the oldie doesn’t forgive what has happened to him. We have to die, but before that, must we also become OLD?
Loss of health is another shock for the oldie. Stairs are harder to climb, streets are more dangerous to cross, locomotion is slowed, it seems everyone is walking faster than you! Then there are the ever present aches and pains and failing joints. Your once firm strong body now rebels with weakened legs and the fear of slipping or tripping and getting hurt in a fall.
Also, you will be very lucky to avoid any illnesses. So, what do you do? You redefine health to the point of being thankful for the absence of life threatening illness. The average oldie will spend about five years of their retirement dogged by poor health. So, try to get the most out of life while you still are semi-healthy and independent.
Another shock loss is the loss of our looks. There is almost a total change in how we look. We get wrinkles, brown spots on our temples and hands, bags of flesh beneath our eyes and of course loss of hair or white hair. Watch out for mirrors, you won’t recognize the person in the reflection. I only look in a mirror when I shave!
Loss of loved ones and friends is almost unendurable. And , of course, these losses magnify our own mortality.
And finally we come to the loss of TIME. Old age is the last stage of life and time is RUNNING OUT! The years are now going by so fast that it is hardly worth counting them. We have more PAST than FUTURE! People tell you to get resigned to your losses and make the best of things, I reply, being old is like life is over, BUT we are still living! After all is said and done, resigning yourself to old age losses is far preferable to death.
So, what do we do? We cherish what remains of life. I enjoy my hobby of writing and the time my spouse and I spend together.
We must appreciate life and to do that we have to value it. In the case of the oldie, the idea is to treasure what one has, namely, the remaining life we have, so temporarily.
So, how can we appreciate life and be aware of its brevity?
Well, the things I do are visit cemeteries, look at old photos and pics, and think about our blindness and ignorance to let the events of our lives pass without much notice.
When I visit cemeteries it reminds me that the meter of life is running and the dates on the stones are confirmation of how long, or short, human existence can be.
I often look at old photos and pictures to give me ideas for stories, since I am a writer in my retirement. Photos capture time, they make time STOP, something we can’t do. These old images record moments of life before they vanish into the past.
When I look at old photos of myself, I realize I am no longer that person and that the person I am now will not be who I am in the future. These photos give me an appreciation of who I am now and what I now have. When I look at old photos of my family it gives me feelings of awe, sadness and incredulity, sometimes tears come to my eyes.
The last item is our blindness and ignorance to take the moments of life for granted. As we go through life we don’t notice much, we’re shut up in our little boxes. We don’t realize life while we are living it. The ordinary events of life are priceless and it’s a tragic waste to not recognize this at the time. But that’s human nature, not to notice life’s moments and they pass so quickly. We are too busy to notice.
Well, I wrote this articles for myself, I am 78 years old and I hope I will appreciate the time I have left. Right now, I’m going to pour myself a large glass of wine to help me accept the things I can’t change.
Also published on Medium.