It’s only 5:20 a.m. Understand, I don’t DO 5:20 a.m. I’ve been awake since 4:30 with a really nasty headache. That’s bad enough. Add to it that we’re dogsitting, and he’s an elder dog, nearly 15. He’s a bit senile, a lot deaf, and he sleeps most of the day away. Last night, he had some difficulties. I finally got up at 5 because he was crying, took him out, and now he’s passed out on an afghan he likes on the living room floor, snoring like an old man.
Well. This is a fine how-de-do. This is NOT normal for him, and it’s hard to be angry because he’s really been a great little dog for most of his life.
I still have a terrible headache. Coffee is brewing, and in a few minutes I’m going to go see if a hit of caffeine will help the pain. I don’t think church is an option for me this morning. I’m REALLY needing some sleep.
So. All this has gotten me thinking about old age and the new things it brings into our lives. I was reading one of my work-related journals yesterday, and the whole issue was about the needs of the aging population, of which I am a part. That’s hard for me to process. Most of the time, even with my back issues, I don’t feel old. I’m two years away from 70, which is now considered young old age. I do have the Syndrome X stuff–diabetes, hypertension, and so on. I even think I’m ready to seek the help of a nutritionist to get me on the right track to lose the weight. I’ve resisted doing that, because I know what to do. I just don’t want to do it But I’m also keenly aware that the weight I’m carrying is bad for me on several different levels, and I clearly haven’t been able to maintain a weight loss program on my own. I have an appointment with my doctor in about a week, and it’s one of the things I’m going to ask her about. She’s wanted me to do this for several years. I think I’m ready to give in.
More interesting to me, though, than the physical issues of aging, are the emotional, mental, and spiritual issues. We become forgetful. We tend to repeat ourselves. Younger people who haven’t realized their own mortality yet tend to become bored and impatient with us.They also tend to think that with the onset of wrinkles and canes, we’re also losing our brains.
I’d like to say here that my brain is in perfectly good condition. It’s true, from what my offspring tell me, that I tend to repeat my stories. So do they, but I listen anyway. It’s also true, for many people I know, that the onset of age brings us closer to the Lord. We have more time to spend in the Word, and in prayer. It’s a wonderful thing.
I remember a woman, the grandmother of my friend, who told stories of her life over and over. We were 12. She was 80-something. I remember we’d look at each other and share an eyeroll when she launched into one of her lengthy, rambling tales.
One of the saddest things about old age is that we tend to live more in the past than in the right now. Our so-called salad days are behind us. I even had a pastor who told a man my age that he hoped the elder generation in the church would just gracefully fade to the background now and let the younger people take over. He was 30something. It’s very sad that he apparently felt he had nothing to learn from the grey heads in the congregation.
I may not be able to do all I did when I was younger. I was very active, busy, and energetic for a long time. I loved being involved in many areas of my church, teaching and singing and so on. I still do love teaching. My singing voice is pretty unreliable these days, so I try not to torture people with that.
My age does not prohibit me from continuing to learn and grow; nor does it prohibit me from teaching. I went on my first-ever mission trip in July, and I was just fine. It stretched me, and opened my heart and understanding in a whole new way. I hope I can do another one at some point.
I heard a young man say that our senior citizens just need to be loved on. No, that’s not all we need. We need to feel useful. We need to be able to hold our heads up with pride over what we’ve accomplished in our lives, and over what God has allowed us to do.
We are the children of the Great Generation. A lot of their strengths rubbed off on us. We had–and still have–a great work ethic. We value our independence in a way that I’m afraid Americans are losing. We remember when America could hold its head up in the world community, not just because of our strength but because of our compassion. America used to be at the forefront when disaster struck some other nation in the world, sending aid and workers. We still do that.
My generation is the Baby Boomer generation. World War II is very real to us. Our fathers and mothers were a part of it, and they were also a part of the Great Depression. We grew up hearing their stories, admiring their strength, and enjoying the prosperity of post-war America.
Ironically, my generation also was the generation of the Hippie movement, when so many turned their backs on “The Establishment” and went off to live in communes and participate in anti-war rallies. Which war? Viet Nam. The one in which our soldiers were traumatized over there, and then here at home when they came back to be vilified with rotten vegetables and screamed epethets like “Baby Killer!”
The seeds of hatred and disrespect for our own country were sown way back then–before then, really. We’re reaping the whirlwind now.
My generation was at the forefront of what we now know as the electronic revolution. My husband remembers learning to program a computer that took up a whole room, and spit out its “knowledge” on punch cards. We were part of the incredible days of the first space flights. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first stepped onto the moon the summer I was married, 1969.
We were smart, folks. And we still are. We have a lot to offer. We’re not ready to be herded into the preparation- for- death institutions that we call nursing homes. Bill Gates is a boomer. So was Steve Jobs. And so is The Donald.
Understand, I’m speaking for our generation as a whole, not for every individual. I understand that there are people of my generation who aren’t doing well. But so many more of us are just fine. We’re not depressed, not senile, not drooling as we stare vacantly at nothing. We’re still active, bright, and busy. We’re still working, still reliable, still contributing.
Well, I’ve gone to rambling. That’s what happens when I have to get up before the sun rises.
I think I’m done now.