This phenomenon definitely sets my age group apart from young’uns. We’re on the marathon of living and aging, and our people are falling down. We have time to notice.
The joke is that old people talk about their ailments all the time. It’s like a hobby. It’s not a hobby, though. It’s a new normal to have your body give up here and there. You are processing failures all the time, and trying to fix them or mitigate them. Hanging on to wellness as best you can, with advice from your peers.
Around the young’uns, we try not to dwell on “what just happened,” pills, hurts, the details of doctor’s diagnoses. But when we get together, we want to know, “what happened?” “what did you do?” and “can you fix it?” as if these were Heloise’s Hints.
Hip or knee replacement, losing weight, your tenth cold this year, back pain, cancer, mini-stroke, high blood pressure—you know the list.
Here are some positives.
First, if you’re alive, still mobile, driving, have food on the table: be grateful. Some people didn’t make it this far, in this condition.
Second, some things get better. You can change your diet, tackle that new allergy that just arrived. Fix the limp. Start your exercise classes again.
Third, many have gone before you, fat, full of aches and pains, fatigue, an upset stomach, and they STILL DO STUFF. “Most of history was made by people who did not feel well.” You can be there for friends and family. Sure, it’s not your old self. It’s your new self, with courage. Sure, you might look like hell. But your friends and family don’t care about that. They might not even see it. Is that the first thing you see in them?
Finally, GIVE EMPATHY. We can’t cure each other. We may not have the answer to that horrible thing that just happened to you. But we can say, “YOU’RE NOT ALONE.” I’m here, I care, and I’ll listen to you in your latest battle with bodily failure. I’ll pamper you within my limits. I’m glad you’re alive.
We have a senior friend who is Korean in a very caring church. A van picks her up to take her to the senior center, where they have exercise machines, crafts, music events. Company. They call her all the time to ask “how are you?” She’s not in distress, at the moment. She’s been in distress, and we helped and listened. She’s good again. Even happy.