Greetings one and all…
A few weeks ago, I presented a program about aging at numerous locations in Denver. Along with other community organizations and agencies, we gathered to Celebrate Life! My audience consisted of individuals over 60 years of age, many of whom are dealing with serious, progressive diseases and/or disabilities. Consequently, I carefully considered how to craft my message so it would be heard as relevant, compassionate, and REAL.
Although I am a firm believer that with age come many blessings, the journey of aging can be arduous. Therefore, my message recognized the realities of aging while offering a bit of hope on the horizon. As is always the case, the people attending augmented my comments with their stories and the lessons learned along the way. A bit older and much wiser, these people graciously advanced my education of life. So, I wanted to share a few of the lessons learned with you.
See Me! Hear Me!
After one of the programs, I met Esther. She noted that she was in her late 70’s and had relocated to Denver over 15 years ago to be close to her kids and grandkids as she aged. Additionally, she expressed irritation and frustration about being “invisible” to her family. Since turning 70, her family attempts to protect her from life. Recently when a grandchild was in the hospital, Esther was not included in the text messages sent to update the family on the child’s condition. When she confronted her son about the omission, he explained that he didn’t want her to worry. Her response to her son included the following:
- I am a capable, competent, and courageous woman. You don’t need to protect me from life!
- Until my last breath, I am part of this family.
- SEE ME and HEAR ME! I am not invisible. I am vital and vibrant!
- Care for me by including me.
We Need Each Other
I also chatted with Ben, a new resident at one of the venues. He shared some of his struggles related to the aftermath of a recent medical issue – the impetus for his recent move. When I asked how he liked his new residence, Ben just beamed. He said it was the best decision of his life. In just a few days, he felt “at home.” When I asked how that happened so quickly, he said:
- I feel welcome and accepted by the community.
- I am not defined by my disabilities. People want to know who I am.
- If I need some help, there is always someone extending a caring hand.
- I have the opportunity to help my community as well – and I have!
- We not only need each other, we want to be with each other.
We Worked Hard to Get Here!
During one of the Q&A sessions following a presentation, a gentleman asked a very interesting question. “If possible, would you choose to be 26 years old again?” As we discussed the idea of turning back the clock, the majority of people said they would not for the following reasons:
- It takes time and effort to become older AND wiser.
- Going back, there is no guarantee that life will be easier or better.
- Despite the twists and turns of life, people felt blessed by and grateful for life.
- We worked hard to get here! Savor the moment and rejoice in every step forward.
As you consider the journey of aging, perhaps the insights offered by those who are older and wiser will serve you well. Regardless of age, see and hear the people around you – and be seen and heard. Remember that the journey of life is enriched by sharing the experience. And be present to the here and now – savor every moment. As far as I know, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Don’t miss it! Take good care and blessings to you and yours……jane
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