I find it easy to become discouraged by so much bad news every where we look. For the next 24 hours I will focus on the many good things and people there are in the world 🙂
“Age is just a number,” says the well-worn adage. But is it a number you care about, or one you tend (or try) to ignore?
Some people are really sensitive about their age and try to hide the truth from others – leave them guessing! For me, from an early age I looked older than my contemporaries. I think it is fair to say that trait has stayed with me so I just accept it. In fact, I often tell people how old I am just in case they think I am older!
My 29th birthday is the only one I really stressed over. Leaving my twenties behind seemed really significant at the time. I had three young children by that time. Sometimes I reflect on my life in decades, as follows:
0-10 All that childhood stuff
10-20 Probably the worst decade of my life – being a teenager is tough!
20-30 I enjoyed trying to be the model “Earth Mother”, baking my own bread etc and enjoying my young children
30-40 Wow! What happened? My life turned up-side-down with a broken marriage and being single again with young children
40-50 Life started to really improve at this point. I had a good job, mortgage and started getting my act together (at last!)
50-60 Well, I am not quite there yet. I have my sixtieth birthday later this year but this decade has been really good so far. I don’t know how I feel about turning sixty. I am aware that quite a few people I went to school with haven’t made it this far and I feel really grateful that I have.
60-70 Well, I feel fairly positive about the future. I have strong feelings about people in my age group continuing to play an active part in our world (however that translates for each of us). You might want to check out my other blog at http://www.encoreaustralia.wordpress.com. It has some great links relevant to this age group.
I am looking for ideas on how to celebrate my sixtieth, so send them through please. Big parties have no appeal, nor does jumping out of a plane – something a little less dramatic would be good 🙂
I want to upgrade my mobile phone. Now that doesn’t sound complicated, does it? I have a pre-paid phone but I am looking at changing over to a contract. I went to the Telstra Store and was approached soon after arriving. He only wanted my name though and told me I was second in the queue. I decided to browse my options and selected three phones that I wanted more information about. I browsed for about ten minutes.
At last I was introduced to a salesperson. I said I was interested in the Nexus – she checked and said they didn’t have any as they were not very popular. OK, I moved on to the Samsung Galaxy 4 Mini – again she said they didn’t have any as they were now outdated with the Galaxy 5 being available. Righto – next I asked about the Nokia – and, you guessed it, they didn’t have any of these either. She went to check on the computer to see if any other Telstra Stores had them. I said, ‘Thanks, but don’t worry as I will go home and order one online!’
I also asked about my pre-paid credit disappearing and if she could check it out for me please. She advised me to ring the Pre-paid Mobile number but assured me I wasn’t alone as a lot of people had complained about losing their credit for unknown reasons!
I visit my elderly aunt every week. She is in the dementia ward of the local Care Village. She turned ninety recently. I notice each week that there is a fellow sitting outside enjoying the sunshine. He has a beautiful smile and says hello to me as I pass by.
As time goes by, we start to exchange a few words about the weather or comment on the flowers in the well-cared for grounds.
Sometimes my aunt is agitated and doesn’t want to see me so I spend a bit more time with ‘the old man’ sitting outside. One day I introduce myself as Jenny and he tells me his name is Bill. Bill is also in his early nineties but he still has his wits about him. I often wonder about his past as he doesn’t seem to have any visitors and he doesn’t give much away about himself. He always asks after me and my family though. I can tell by the lines on his face that he has seen a lot in his life – not all of it has been good either.
Over the next weeks and months we get to know each other a little better. My aunt doesn’t even know who I am now but I still visit once a week and tend to spend a bit more time chatting to Bill. He tells me what mischief my aunt has been up to over the previous week. She keeps wanting to go home and tries to escape at every opportunity.
One day, I will muster up the courage to ask him to tell me a bit more about his life. He prefers to be the one asking the questions.
It just so happened that my most recent visit fell on Father’s Day. My Dad passed away some time ago and I spontaneously bought a box of chocolates for Bill. I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I casually gave them to him, saying, ‘I thought you might like these, Bill’. I was a bit nervous as I was unsure how he would respond. He was very quiet at first, then I noticed his eyes brimming with tears. I touched his hand and sat quietly beside him.
‘It is so kind of you, Jenny. I want to share something with you – if you have the time?’
‘Of course, Bill’, I replied.
He sat quietly and I could tell he was summoning up the courage to speak. He said, ‘I always look forward to your visits. I know that you really come to see your aunt, but I like to think that you come to see me too. You see, I don’t have any family. My parents died years ago and I had no brothers or sisters. I married a beautiful girl, Kathleen and we had a daughter called Jenny – just like your name.’
Bill paused again to catch his breath and then continued, ‘When Jenny had her tenth birthday we took her to the Zoo as a special treat. She really loved nature and especially animals. It was on the way home that our lives changed forever. A drunk driver went through a red light and smashed into our car. Kathleen and Jenny died that day’. He paused again, tears rolling freely down his cheeks now.
He went on, ‘I was in a coma in hospital for two weeks after the accident. When I came around and they told me about Kath and Jenny, my world fell apart. I didn’t want to go on living without them. Physically I got better over time but I was emotionally dead from that point on. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and years. The pain is still with me today, like it happened yesterday. However, I slowly learned to see the good in the world again. That is why I like to sit outside and look at the gardens and watch the birds. And now I am an old man.
Your kindness is like a ray of sunshine in my life. Please forgive me for my emotional outburst today, but it is so long since anyone has shown me such kindness. Thank you Jenny.’
I was very moved by what Bill told me and I wrapped my arms around him and no words were needed.
My son sent me a link to a website a while ago and I have since subscribed to it due to its simple wisdom. There is a link below to the Zen Habits site and topic of Being Prepared for Anything. The site offers a seven point Survival Kit using the following headings:
2. Watch your internal response
3. See what you’re holding on to
4. Let it go
5. Respond appropriately
6. Stay in the moment
7. Be grateful and accept the moment for what it is.
If the topic and the Survival Kit are of interest to you, and you would like to learn more, I really urge you to visit Zen Habits. I find it often touches on something that is relevant in my life and it sometimes provides Aha! moments for me.
Who is this old man? Does he have a name? Is he rich or poor – kind or mean? Where does he live? Is he educated or just street wise? Is he loved and has he known happiness?
I joined a creative writing group today and we are tasked with writing a story with the topic of “An old man”. I found this unidentified image on the internet and I want to delve into his life and personality so he becomes alive in the story I am yet to write.
From looking at the photo, what do you see? Do you think he has had a hard life? Does he have any secrets? Is he famous? Perhaps I can use your observations in my story 🙂
My elderly aunt was being cared for in the dementia ward of the local retirement village. It was about four years ago that I visited her from Western Australia. She had very few personal items with her and she asked me to go to her home and bring some toiletries etc back for her. The staff also gave me a short list of items she needed.
I opened the door to her home – it felt a little strange without her there and it had a musty smell about it because the doors and windows were shut tight. On the list was some talcum powder. I checked the bathroom and there were several tins of powder but they were all empty. I decided to treat my aunt to some nice new toiletries instead.
Much to my surprise, my aunt was very upset to learn there was no talc in her bathroom. She believed that someone had broken in and stolen it. Things were not as they should be!
Unfortunately this event came to be a symbol for me of her dementia. She really believed that someone was stealing from her vacant home. I could believe that, but I couldn’t believe someone would steal talcum powder (and leave the empty containers in situ).
It was true that something was not as it should be – sadly it was my aunt’s deteriorating mental and physical health.
No matter how much personal growth I experience, there are times I am disappointed when I don’t meet my own expectations. I don’t know where this comes from – but every so often this little voice tells me I am not good enough. Is this something we all struggle with? How do we silence that voice of doubt?