Growing Old is not for Sissies…

The title of this post, Growing Old is not for Sissies, was a favorite saying of my grandmother, whom we called Olie (see Bette Davis is pegged as the source of this insight, sometimes reported with a variation from this exact language. But, the bottom line is clear. And, it is clear that with aging comes lots of challenges, physical and mental. The aches and pains of getting older are just one reminder. The indignities of being seen as old don’t help either (like when my friend Roger was called “Pops” by a random young woman on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach). I, for one, had much more hair and none of it gray, when we started Magnus. Now, 25+ years later, well, what can I say? Chasing lawyers takes a toll, I say with a smile. As noted in other posts, sometimes life gets in the way of work, (see I’m thinking of this post as “Olie’s” phrase hits home often these days in helping care for my parents, not to mention when I am stressed or hurting myself (often from “benign” causes like yard work). Writing this post at the beginning of a week when I’ll be traveling to check in on my parents, dealing with caregivers, doctors, and more, this is on my mind. One must stay tough to weather the storms of aging. As natural as it is, we don’t get to practice it – we just have to live it. As much as I sometimes get frustrated dealing with what I have to on behalf of my parents, I’m not them – living it. Their realities are often harsh; finding enjoyment in life is sometimes difficult for them. Enhancing quality of life is easier said that done. The golden years are not as kind to some as to others. Being tough and carrying on only gets one so far. And, dealing with the indignities and embarrassment of asking for (or just needing) help add to the difficulties of growing old. My dad said, just today, “I never thought it (life) would come to this.” Even finding the resources needed for family members can be challenging. Thankfully, society is more prepared today than ever to provide care and support to an aging population, but it is still challenging to find caregivers, case managers, lawyers, doctors, and more to add to the team as unforeseen developments occur in the aging process. Melissa and I routinely help others facing similar situations. Sharing knowledge and encouraging kindness can help others going down the same path. A little empathy goes a long way. And, along that way, I’m taking notes. There might be a book in here somewhere.

David and I have reached the age when we, as well as most of our friends, have succumbed to many of life’s maladies. I recently had a get together with some long time friends who regaled our group about the various ailments from which they suffered. I sat by quietly, until I could no longer stand it, before exclaiming that they sounded like a bunch of old people complaining about their physicians, as well as their aches and pains. Enough already! I am not as young as I once was, but thankfully, the medical issues I have are relatively minor, when compared to those of many people my age. Sadly, I have lost many dear friends over the past few years, due to various illnesses and accidents, such that growing old seems, at least to me, a better option than death. As Jimmy Buffett says, my friends and I, for the most part, are “growing older, not up,” meaning that we still know how to have a good time. My friend, Diana, and I attended a milestone birthday party for a mutual friend, Phill, that took place at a local nightclub. Open to the public, this nightclub had other patrons on the night of our friend’s party. Among the other patrons was a 99 year old woman, accompanied by her caregiver, who used a walker. The walker did not deter her, in any way, from joining a crowd of people on the dance floor during her favorite songs. Boy, could she “bust a move”! Diana and I remarked that, if we live to be 99, we hope to be able to boogie like this woman. I agree with David that growing old is not for sissies, but growing older, with grace, dignity, and hopefully, some groovy dance moves, certainly is better than the alternative!

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