Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Ways of the Elderly [Way 1.]
In ‘Way I’ of this series, I first want to reflect on my own peculiar attainment of an understanding of life realizations.
Suffice to say that at a young age, through diplomatic conversations with my mother, and less diplomatic conversations with older sisters, I found out that within my lifetime, I could expect several stages of change.
There would be a stage of adolescent change, and soon after stages of love, marriage, childbirth…and then…little else. Nothing actually. Because after that, life-stage-instruction fell off, as it were, into a deep chasm. There was no discussion from Mother or siblings of what I might expect in that latter period of my life.
And so the learning was hampered right from the get-go with a kind of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ kind of thinking, not only from my Mother who maybe as yet didn’t know, but also from Elders in the neighborhood. And so that silence made old age seem so irrelevant. So unrelated to me—my life and my own physical and mental development.
Sure I encountered a few old people, some very old indeed, but ‘twas said about the town that ‘they are totally senile’, and indeed, they appeared to be. It was obvious even to me in my tender years that they all were so-of-another-mind, and another time, and another reasoning, and a square-and-unyielding-lack-of-acceptance of the magic of modern-day thinking. So much so, I concluded they must be no more a part of my phylum or sub-species than a rock or a tree.
Appearances alone supported this conviction. So many of them had hunched backs, a shuffling gait, bulbous noses, over-large earlobes, and folded sagging necks shaped in all respects like that of turtles. None of which physio-features I possessed.
And furthermore, when I engaged in conversations with them, like turtles they withdrew from present time and only discussed with me times of their-now-distanced youth.
They were mum, in fact, secretive of their own particular thoughts and feelings in present time. Even my own parents became secretive in that respect in their elder years. Pretending, as it were, that they were still in a youthful space. Dipping only into circumstances of the past. A kind of pantomime acting out without the modern-day stage costumes of jogging outfits, face-lifts, tanning agents, hair coloring, and only God knows, what else.
So, despite even one-on-one discussions, the ‘stage of elderly’ remained a complete blank slate—and my understanding as limited as that of a something as inanimate as a rock or a tree.
And so, with no knowledge of what to expect in my elder years, I likewise gave no contemplation to that stage of life. But eventually realizations came. Not gently, but explosively.
Next Post – you guessed it – WAY 2.