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Aging with grace

A wise person once said, “Aging is inevitable. It has its benefits; you just have to look for them.”

In many cultures of the past, the elderly were seen as wise persons who can offer advice and guidance from experience. But this is the age of state-of-the-art; we trash the old – last year’s cell phones, history, and us old fogies.  

Truth is, in this pandemic age, we still know that at least half of aging with grace is centered in our hearts, minds and souls, even when the body doesn’t always want to cooperate. Unlike our offspring, we can even simplify our luxuries when we’re forced to, as we once did.

And learn to live with it, even if we might be forced go back to old alternatives – home teaching, for example (some even do it today) – and forsake the luxuries we once thought to be necessities.  Drastic?  

Lord help me for quoting him, but as Rush Limbaugh, now another of our elderly masses, says: “The word for today, my friends, is ADAPT.” 

And we can also learn from the poet Samuel Ullman:

“Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but giving up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair –

these are the quick equivalents of the long years

that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.

Whether 80 or 18, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the sweet amazement of the stars, the undaunted challenge of

events, the unfailing child-like appetite for “What next”?

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubts, as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

So long as your heart receives messages of beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from the earth, from man and the Infinite, so long are you young.” 

At the same time, we can still approach life, chuckling with a sense of humor. Consider the senior citizen driving down a freeway when his wife phones him, urgently warning him that she’d just heard on the radio that a car is going the wrong way on I-90. “Please be careful,” she pleads.  “Yes,” he replies, “and it’s not just one car, it’s hundreds of them!”

And there are three elderly sisters now living together. One night one of them decides to take a bath. As she is about to step into the tub, she yells down the stairs, “Was I getting in or out of the bath?” A sister responds, “I don’t know. I’ll come up and see.” She starts up the stairs, then pauses, yelling, “Was I going up the stairs or down?” The youngest of the three, sitting at the kitchen table having tea, shakes her head and says, “I sure hope I don’t get that forgetful.” She knocks on wood for good measure and yells, “I’ll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who’s at the door.”

And there’s the story about one senior citizen overheard talking to another:

“So I hear you’re getting married.”

“Yep.”

“Do I know her?”

‘Nope.”

“Is she good looking?”

“Not really.”

“Can she cook?”

“Naw, not too well.”

“Does she have lots of money?”

“Nope. Poor as a church mouse.”

“Well, is she good in bed?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well then, why in the world do you want to marry her?”

“Because she can still drive.”

But, seriously, a true story: there’s a woman peddling her book on a local radio station, professing she can return us to normalcy by  just ignoring the scientists and throwing away our masks and sending our kids back to school, simple as that. (Tell that to Californians, Texans, and Floridians…)  

And if you believe her, come and see one of us old fogies; we’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you, cheap.

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