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I Love Life

I Love Life
Location
Missouri,
Birthday
June 28
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I love learning and am constantly delighted when that happens. There is so much I want to know and experience.

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Salon.com
MARCH 20, 2012 11:01PM

I Need Answers

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Not that I do this, but when I encounter the elderly, whether I'm in the store shopping, in church praying, or in a restaurant dining, I so badly want to interview them.


I've always felt an affinity with the aged members of our society simply because they remind me of my own Grandparents, who are all deceased by now. I was one of those lucky ones who had Grandparents in her life. They weren't just the old relatives in our family who sat alone at parties. They were our beloved Grandparents whom we adored visiting in St. Louis and who got us excited when we knew they were coming in town. As young children, we immediately checked out our favorite spots in their home upon our arrival....the toy closet where the same old toys were stored for years and the glass tray where snacks sat in dishes. In Grandpa's office was his desk with a huge sword fish hanging on the wall and a refrigerator near by. In this round edged refrigerator were cold bottles of Dr. Pepper, one of his favorite drinks. To this day, Dr. Pepper is my favorite pop. Not only do I miss my Grandparents, I miss their old two story red brick flat with the green trim on the outside. They lived on the second floor, but worked on the first floor where their business resided. I can still clearly see each and every room in that wonderful place  I can almost  smell those wonderful Grandparent house smells...my home away from home.

When they drove to Kansas City two or three times a year to see us, they brought peanuts and licorice for all of us. We munched on the peanuts while we played cards throughout their visit. The licorice was mainly for my Mom since she loved it so. Although we didn't do anything special during their few days  with us,  their visits were always special and still bring me pleasure when I think about them. To this day, I can hear Grandpa greet us with, "Hi, my kiddoes" as he walked through our welcoming door. Presently, when I visit my own  grown son and his family, I make sure to bring peanuts and candy. It's my way  of carrying on the tradition as well as keeping the memories of my childhood alive within me. How I miss my dear beloved Grandparents.....

Now you have an idea  why I love old people, but it still doesn't explain why I desire to "interview" them. I think it's because I am middle age and aging  too rapidly for me to comprehend or accept. I see it happening to my body and yet within, I still feel the same as when I was a kid excited about  seeing my Grandma and Grandpa. There is no correlation between what's happening to me physically and to the mind that still feels quite young and supple.  All I know is that the first half, possibly three fourths of my life,  is in the past now. My dreams and goals aren't quite the same number or as big as they were once upon a time. I see time racing and running too quickly for me to grasp and hold onto so that I can slow its speed. For some reason, this elusive thing we call  time,  doesn't halt to my wishes and pleading to slow down. As a matter of fact, I am ignored like everyone else.

I am scared. I am scared of dying. I am scared of not living fully. I am scared of losing my beloved, both family and friends. I want to know from these aged human beings whom I encounter how they deal with the loss of loved ones in their lives including the missing years as well. I want to know if they are afraid like I am beginning to feel. I want to know how they manage and face the faceless death that is  slowly kidnapping each and every loved one they know. What does it feel like to continue losing all around them as death sneaks closer to them? What does it feel like to survive and continue on as  they witness these deaths of those they love? What regrets if any, do they hold within? What wisdom and advice are they willing to share without sounding like they're preaching so we will learn from their years? If they could start all over, would they? How would they live their lives with the knowledge they now possess?

Fears and questions abound. I need the answers.


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Just sharing what's on my mind.....
You know, I've had that same thought too: interviewing the elderly. My thought is not so much to learn how they cope with aging and end of life, but it's that they carry so much history with them. They've seen things that happened before so many of us were born, and that memory, that experience, that first hand witness precious information won't be with us much longer. I should carry a video camera everywhere I go and interview every one I meet over 70 and ask them to tell their fondest memories, their saddest memories, and their most historic remembrances.
You may find that they have fewer answers than you think. I had the pleasure to be friends with a 70ish year old man 5 years back, and wise though he was, he had no answers...only more questions. Bruce had a lively sense of humor, and a perpetual smile on his face, but he also had something of a fatalist side to him.
Bruce died about 3 years ago.
I hope he has some answers now.

Thank you for saying what we all think from time to time.
I am getting there myself and have the same feelings you do. It's somewhat inevitable. And I was just talking to a contemporary who I have know since college and we were talking of whether we wanted to be buried or cremated.
You just have to try and be brave, I guess. And as I always say, Keep Moving!
I understand how you feel - acutely - but I don't know you'd get the answers you're looking for from the elderly. I've lost a number of people I love, friends, family, husband, and most of them were far too young. In fact, very few were "old." Age doesn't always bring wisdom or insight either. Your answers are inside you; you won't feel better about death no matter how many old people you interview. I know you don't believe this is all there is and neither do I. I've learned death is nothing scary; it's just a passage from something nice but temporary to something better and more satisfying than we can ever imagine. It's getting there that's painful. I see it as a goal, not something to fear. I wish I could offer you something more meaningful for you but I can only share my perspective.

I had a friend who's a cardiologist specializing in bizarre and rare heart abnormalities. He told me most of his patients don't live much past 30. I remember being horrified and I said, "Isn't that depressing?" He said no, it was a privilege to treat them, that he learned so much from them. He said, "It's funny how differently some people live their lives when they know how limited their time is." A lot of his patients were kind of nonchalant about dying young because they'd been preparing for it most of their lives.
I talk a lot to the homeless who live on the streets and they just do not think about immortality anymore. After 3 close calls I live for the moment and that is all I can do as. I think the elderly feel the same way. Our memories, our loves, we carry forever.
HUGGGGGGGGGGGG
It sounds like a very fruitful project. By the way, at 67, I still feel young inside. Creativity when exercised is an antidote to aging of the mind and heart.
I think you might want to consider interviewing some elderly people for your local newspaper, church newsletter, or some small publication. Or, why not do a series for us here??? Most of these people are lonely and would love an oppotunity to feel valued and needed!
A nice synchronicity (for me any way)? Is it "something in the air"? [Or the ?"interconnectedness" of this special OS group?] ILL, I don't do this often [especially not to a Google-connected website ;-)!], but I'm going to tell you my -- what I joshingly (?) call "carbon dating 'age'". I'm one of the "they" or the "them" you're speaking of but before confessing the breadth and depth of my ?differentness? let me tell you a few of our commonalities, o.k.? Both your post and at least one of the comment-ers have touched on what I think is maybe the basis commonality: Whatever age we are, we all are engaged with live and living and we all know we're going to die. "I could write a book" on this topic of yours (or could have, maybe, say fifty years ago but then I wouldn't have known as much about ?"the topic"? as I do now :-o). I am 81 (and a half) years old. By ALL MEANS, please DO "interview" me! Us geezers, of course everyone knows, love attention [;-)]. But I suspect I'm not alone in believing (or hoping to believe, any way) a lot of us "have a few tricks up our sleeves" too.

THANKS for a nifty/wonderful post that's been 'specially timely for me to find just now.

R++
P.S. [More ?"musings on mortality"? ... and/or ?"synchronicity"?]: My perhaps very first OS blog was called "A Plea for an Age Movement". I swiped the title [without consulting a copyright lawyer?! :-o] from the title of a book my forty-years-older-than-I mother bought when she was even an ?awful lot? younger than I am now. The first (and at the moment only-one-I-remember) comment-er was someone I experienced at the time as a young, new-to-OS-er. I felt concerned for her in what I thought I perceived as her Open Salon "novitiate state". She very recently got a thoroughly-well-deserved EP here, after the intervening OS years of having picked up a voluminous number of OS "favorites". So one of the (not so few as "y'all" might either fear or just surmise) ?"perks"? about being OLLTT?! -- is what us geezers see of the burgeonings of you ?"youngsters"?.

So, yes, do -- if you feel like it -- "interview me" but inasmuch as us geezers do tend to rattle off at the mouth (with computer keyboards we can't see very clearly any more), perhaps 'twould be done by "pm"? :-o Don't want to clutter up any more of this online blog page.
How do you define "elderly" and what is the cut off age? A lot of people think I am ELDERLY because I am 63 but I am active, i am a workout coach, totally immersed in being a writer and musician, I look 45 or 50 and I dress like it. Am I elderly? I also know from internal truth and experience that people really resent being categorized, especially into an age range or category. Most elderly people either don't feel elderly or don't think of themselves in these terms unless they are reminded of it. They would prefer that ageism take a flying leap and they could congress with people of all ages and stages and not be judged by the decade they are occupying. Ageism has always been with us, of course, but lately the stratification has gotten more and more rigid. I love being around people my own age, younger, older or any age at all! I learn and grow from young people, however and love their hope and vitality--it helps seed my creativity. Unfortunately I am finding that the 20-40 age group wants nothing to do with us "geriatric relics" and find us boring and irrelevant. There is not the respect or the admiration for what we have accomplished or done in our lives--there is, instead the unspoken invective: "move over and let us on through." While this is certainly natural for the young it is reprehensible for our culture. My best friends were decades older than me when I was young and currently most of my friends are younger than me. I find that in the south where communities are more socially oriented rather than wealth and success oriented, that there is much more rapport between the ages. We need to cultivate this more and more because it takes not only a village to raise a child but a village to help an elder through their last passage!
You make your mark, Patricia, that's what you do.
Thank you.