of Age

September 24, 2011

"Say Pops, can I ask you where you got that hat...mind if I sit down?"

recently, a dear Friend of mine asked after my feelings on hate. I replied that while I can’t really ever recall hating any particular individuals, there were many “things” that I hate. Situations, feelings, results, failures, disappointments etc etc. I went on to express that I thought hate a very important and motivating force, that if channeled ( I HATE that word) correctly, could be a force for good. Little else can get me as committed to change as some good old fashioned hatin.
She responded with a few of her own hates and one, in particular, caught my eye and, consequently, my attention.
She said she hated to see old people, in public, eating alone.
I do as well. Probably most of us do, if we even bother to slow down long enough to notice.
Her comment had me think that I could at least change that.
After some reflection, it seemed to me that hate should spur me to action, that even if I recognize the potential of the emotion, it is not one I covet and if it were in my power to change it….why wouldn’t I?
You have a headache?, you hate it? take some fucking aspirin and quit giving me one for all your moaning about it.
Ok, I’m gonna. You just watch.
I’ve decided that when I’m eating out, alone or in company (be warned), if I spy someone elderly, at their meal alone, I am going to make some kind of contact and ask if I might join them or if they might care to join us.
I’ve not decided on a tact for this event. I know that not all situations will lend itself to it happening but you and I know, have seen, the ones that do.
My inclination is not out of sympathy (completely, anyway) and I have no want of invading someone’s space but damn it!!, they have shit to tell me!!
There are countless stories there, there is untold accounts of bravado and accomplishment. Of dreams met and lost. There is wisdom. So much wisdom.
Listen, Old folks drive me nuts. They are generally slow and preoccupied, cantankerous, forgetful, myopic, and often bigoted. They can be resentful, spiteful and self absorbed. They are almost ALWAYS inconvenient.
They are also…incredibly generous, patient, sturdy, brave and an untapped wealth of experience and knowledge.
It disturbs me that we, in the west, are so dismissive of the elderly and the treasures they bear. So many Eastern cultures revere their age-ed. They elevate and cherish them. They care for them, knowing that they did for us.
As guilty as anyone, I am ashamed of how we consider them. As if they are just to be tolerated, while we watch their waning hours tick by, in anticipation, of sorts, for when we can file them into assisted care and then onto the grave, to make room for someone more productive, genial, attractive.
So, consider yourself warned Gramps, if you don’t want me hunched over you and your pea soup, asking intrusive questions about the war and your beautiful, now gone, wife of fifty some odd years, your lovely house and what it took to keep it, your hundreds of Grand and great-grand children…you best stay home cuz you have everything I need and I’m coming for it.
Don’t you just hate that?

6 Responses to “of Age”

  1. K8 said

    Why do you assume that the old person is lonely? And if you don’t assume it based on age then is there a particular facial expression that will communicate the lonely or not factor?

    • ofreh said

      Of course, you’re right. It is very presumptuous of me. I have every intention of being alone at an advanced age and none of being lonely. I’ll try to keep that in mind before forcing myself on anyone.

      • K8 said

        I took a photo once (if I could find it that’d be nice) of an older lady because she seemed to be so happy. She was sitting on a patio, eating her lunch, sipping her wine and reading some trashy magazine. Magazine one hand, sip with the other, then a tasty bite, then a sip. She looked like she was having the best time.

      • ofreh said

        Ahh, yes. No doubt having forced a smile, as the telling of it, did me.

  2. ofreh said

    That may be.
    Though I’m not quite sure what you mean.
    K8’s assumption is a fair one and I can’t imagine why else I’d consider including myself at someones table. Unless you are suggesting my sympathy so petite to actually be menacing.
    I can only relate to anothers experience though the eyes of my own and I struggle to relate to loneliness but recognize it exists. If you suggest I am projecting a perception that my own aging somehow translates to a loneliness, you’d be sorely mistaken.

  3. Alice said

    Comments section – I haven’t read such self-congratulatory, masturbatory, coffee-house intellectual, mutual-petting, community-college modern philosophy, American rhetoric 101 posturing, elitist drivel in a very long time. Bravo! (Save for LD, who seems able to express thoughts without all the posturing.)

    As to the content of the blog post itself – I did enjoy it very much and hope there will be people who see me with as much graciousness and affection when I’m tottering about in my elderly years…

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