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On Becoming an "Elder" After the Death of One's Parents
I am not privy to the demographic data for HubPages in general, but with so many users, I imagine it is fairly representative of the U.S. So I begin this narrative with the younger people in mind. Most of you are fortunate enough to have living parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. They serve as the keepers of wisdom, the family elders we look up to, hopefully. Whether or not we 'get along' with these folks is really not the point-it is that they simply exist. They have something we cannot be given, we must earn it-experience. Ideally, there is an familial 'umbrella' that exists so that youth may flourish. Our elders are there to wipe our noses, kiss our boo-boos, and listen to youthful angst. The lives they have lived give them the knowledge to do these things properly. Once again, I wish to emphasize that it is the ideal family situation that I am portraying here, which is almost a rarity in our current society.
Stuck in the Middle With Me
I've been middle-aged for some time now, and at 53, I think I just better get used to the idea. It's not so easy, you realize-during my first 25 years I had access to a virtual family shelter-where I could certainly turn somewhat comfortably when in need. Enter longer lifespans, and these relationships can last far longer than ever before in human history. And of course the complexity of the modern age adds to the myriad of information we are required to assimilate. A brief article in USA Today caught my attention regarding this matter:
But as the years go by, our elders pass away-some of these deaths leaving us somewhat stunned and lost. We are left with their memories and teachings, their wisdom and knowledge. All of this is, of course, one of the more difficult aspects of the human condition.
Aging is forever taking place, whether we like it or not. I see my mother's face in the mirror now, and it is somewhat disconcerting. And these years have a tendency to creep up on you; one day you simply notice that you don't look young any longer-and it's mighty strange, indeed. Now it didn't happen all at once, certainly, my first experience with apparent aging was the fact that nobody 'carded' me any longer. Initially, I was thrilled, then, horrified. Of course I was all of 25 at the time, but felt ancient and hurt. But I was quick to get over it, and went on with other matters so critical when in one's 20's.
As I went somewhat fearlessly though my thirties and forties, I was forced to realize that I, indeed, was becoming one of them. No longer could I blame youth for my questionable ways, I was now becoming an elder. Dozens upon dozens of nieces and nephews cropped up-how did such a thing come about? Christmas cards now bear the visages of my cousins who are currently identical to their parents so very long ago. Disturbing.
And So It Goes...
Death, I suppose, is the true culprit here, for it is the one which forces all of us to this position. Once my relatives began to die, I saw each as a terrible yet temporary sorrow, yet now I see them as a cumulative personal status. I am the last in my line. I am one of the ones considered 'old.' There are no more cushions between death and me. I heard somewhere once that once your parents have passed, you are considered God's orphan. I cannot complain.
I imagine the inspiration for this writing came from my increasing awareness of the behavior of other people toward me. Whether I want it or not, I am a 'Ma'am'-unless such terminology is strictly forbidden by me. All of my physicians are younger than I, and some still bear pimples. It has taken this lifetime to earn respect, and I do enjoy it, yet I wonder how those who went before me felt at my age. They must have been as seriously confused as I am today.
How I will handle this status is up to me-and I do hope to have many years left to enjoy it.