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5/18/2010

Aging in Ageist America

My ancestors come from Ireland and Scotland, Germany and Bohemia. Along the way, they met and married Pennsylvania Dutch and Blackfoot Indian. And others. A confusion of heritage exists in me. I guess that makes me American.

I have three sons, all full grown. They are fine young men who make me proud. I have a wife who loves me and whom I deeply love in return. I have a small circle of friends - most of whom I've never even met, physically.

And I wonder.

When one gets to the point that one realizes more of life is behind than ahead, one begins to look for value in one's existence. One looks for affirmation and acceptance, and one finds it harder and harder to gain such. And it seems the more one looks, the more one needs, the rarer it becomes. Our society, among all its 'ists' and 'isms', is ageist. The older one gets, the more invisible.

I can't complain. I've got a relatively good life. But I wonder, nonetheless.

Who am I?

Why am I?

Who will care, beyond family, when there is no 'I'?

And why does it make such a difference?

Do me a favor. Hug an old person. Call an old mother or father. Let someone who raised you know you love them - unbidden and without a reason. Kiss your grannie, if you can. While you can.


Ndinombethe.

21 comments:

Heather said...

i am sending many hugs. and giving them. i think we all have to ask those questions once in awhile.

Dysfunctional Mom said...

I love old men. I don't know what it is, I just love them. I wish I could spend more time with them here at work, instead of being behind a desk.

Jientje said...

I think I want to go see my parents tomorrow.

Audubon Ron said...

Ha! Wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m just starting my Moses. We have to try harder, be nicer and not smell like soiled laundry.

Grandmother said...

It matters because we matter to one another. We reach out, witness, listen, support and care about one another. In the process, we touch each others lives and leave an imprint. The "why" question is deeply personal and important to answer. The "does it matter" question we answer for each other. And the answer is "yes" you mater- to me for one. The long delayed but generous answer to a similar post came at exactly the right time to really matter to me. Grazie. Hopefully, it leads us to value ourselves regardless of the larger culture's attitude.

moneythoughts said...

I think Grandmother, the above comment, said it best. I have nothing to add.

Hockeymandad said...

I totally agree, I have no more grandparents and I only have my mom left. Aside from aunts and uncles, but you know what I mean. A simple phone call, card, or message goes a long way. One day you will not have the option.

Indigo said...

And this is why there is no behind or in front of me...there are only moments. I think at the end of the day it's all we can ask of ourselves it to enjoy the moment.

I give hugs wherever I go. I see lines etched across a face and smile at the experience that earned those tokens. (Hugs)Indy

Tara R. said...

I'm taking my son to visit his grans next week. There will be hugs and love galore. I cannot wait.

Scary Mommy said...

I wish I could kiss my grandmother. I'll settle for my kid's teacher instead. Hopefully she won't think I'm too weird. :)

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Age terrifies me, not because of possible pain or infirmity, but because of the invisibility, of being forgotten.

Will be calling my grandmothers-in-law later.

lisaschaos said...

Very true! I do call my grandma at least once a week. :0) My great-grandparents are long passed.

Big Mark 243 said...

I don't know if it is ageism or being unsettled. Being acknowledged does wonders for the ego, but I wonder if there is an grander purpose in having people 'know' you and value you for being.

This always makes me say 'hmmm', because I know what I feel. As to what I may think, that is a different story!!

Nevine said...

You ask all of those existential questions, Lou, as we all do... And are there any answers... real and tangible answers? I'm not so sure... Very thought-provoking post!

Nevine

PattiKen said...

I no longer have parents or grandparents. When I became the "leading edge" of my family, there was something so unsettling about that, as if some protective wall that had stood between me and mortality had fallen. And your questions were heavy on my mind.

I suspect the answers to all of your questions might be the same as mine ultimately were, and you summarized them perfectly in your second paragraph.

LceeL said...

Heather: Thank you, Heather. You are a Sweetheart.

Dysfunctional Mom: Wow. Tell me where - I'm there.

Jientje: Yes, do that.

Audubon Ron: Okay. I'll try harder, I'll be nicer and I'll wear after shave. Now what?

Grandmother: And you, Dear Lady, matter to me, as well.

Moneythoughts: Thank you, Fred. You're a true friend.

Hockeymandad: Well said, Sir.

Indigo: And hugs to you, too, my friend.

Tara R: Good plan. And thanks.

Scary Mommy: Or, you could kiss me. I won't think you're a bit weird.

Coal Miner's GD: You, my dear, will never, ever be forgotten.

Lisaschaos: Good. Don't stop.

Big Mark 243: I wonder what grander purpose there might be, too. Ego, perhaps?

Nevine: To the sublime ....

PattiKen: I hope, someday, you and I get to sit down over a cup of coffee.

CaraBee said...

I live far away from all of the elders in my family and I confess to calling far less often than I should. I love them, and love talking to them, but the days just get away from me. Thank you for the reminder to make them a priority. Will do.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

So, what you're really asking is for all the mommy bloggers to kiss YOU, right Lou?

Sneaky DOM.

Loraine said...

I worry about these things on a daily basis. I drive me nuts. Look out for that...

Nan Sheppard said...

I'll care, you know I will.

Mags said...

Believe it or not (you probably believe it) I often struggle with the "Why am I?" too and I'm 33...

And also, I will care when there is no you.