Friday, July 15, 2011

Old People and Young People










My aunt expressed often in her later years that she got great pleasure when she could hang out with people twenty years or more her junior.
And to her I was young. She was eighty-something, and I was fifty-something, and as long as she was alive I was still relatively young.

Mom's been gone twenty years now. Dad is going sooner than later, and my very sister who is younger than me has a terminal illness. My cousins call to talk to me because as one of them said, "I am calling you because you are the oldest in the family."

And when one of them says that, I think what the hell- I don't know squat. In fact, the older I get the less I know that I know.

Here is what I know tonight.

I know it is necessary to be true to yourself. It is absolutely necessary not to allow yourself to put yourself down. We all have much to offer. And even if we cannot figure out what it is, we must trust anyway.

I do believe that there is meaning and purpose to life, but I don't know what it is. So now I am making it okay just to be in a place of trusting that just because I don't understand something does not mean it doesn't exist.

Tonight I went to an art opening. I was one of two of the oldest people there. and I felt out of my element. And being in the wheelchair compounded that feeling . I was so down on myself that I got absorbed in superficial thoughts.

So I took a reverie. I flashed back twenty-five years. I am young, thin, fit and ripe. I am at this same art opening. Out of the corner of my eye I see an older woman somewhere near my mother's age who is in a wheelchair. I want to pretend I do not see her, but the polite me pays her perfunctory attention . Then I make an excuse to scurry away.

I want to be full of the future too, but I must admit as I age I often must give myself a pep talk about staying in the game of making plans and thinking forward.

The wheelchair trip was like here I sat lower than all others, and I watched me watching me and visions of the poor crippled Clara in the Heidi movie crawled in my head. Young Clara, in her high back wheelchair both intrigued and repulsed me because I, after all, was a normal two-legged girl.

Tonight was an exercise in being the much older woman in a wheelchair This was an experience that I found both interesting from an academic standpoint and somewhat depressing from a ego point of view.

And it is hard to admit, but I still have a REAL BIG EGO. I would have thought by now that it would be so far up on there on a dusty shelf.

Another lesson. Tomorrow is also another day.

No one day of my life is in and of itself monumental.

In my mind's eye I am still me- on my bike at fourteen- wind at my back pedaling home.

Home.

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