- Aging & Longevity
A Senior Citizen Story on the Theory of Life
It was a bright pleasant Sunday. A light breeze shuffled the leaves of the trees standing in Baker Park. The park was filled with children playing, kites flying, and couples jogging.
On a newly painted bench sat two elderly gentlemen. As long as the weather was nice, they were Sunday regulars, sitting on the same bench, wearing the same clothes and feeding the same birds.
Ben and Walker had been friends for 40 years. Now in their late 60's, their friendship had endured the peaks and valleys of life. For the last five years, Sunday was the day they met at the park to reflect about time past. Although they did not live together, they were aware of each other affairs, which made for permissive topics of conversation. They cherished these peaceful Sunday laughing, talking and feeding the birds. However, every now and then, one particular person would disrupt their Sunday enjoyment. Today was one of those days of the uninvited.
Ben had just finished laughing at Walker's joke when he happened to look down the path. The response to what he saw could be read on his face.
"What's wrong? You look like you swallowed spoiled milk," comically remarked Walker.
"I thought she wouldn't show up today, but here she comes."
Walker knew exactly what Ben was talking about. "Saddy," whispered Ben
."Her name is Haddy. Be respectful Ben!"
"Why? She's like that flesh eating disease, eating up all the pleasure she can find and replacing it with gloom. She's depressed and wants everyone else to be depressed along with her."
"Uh...the flesh eating disease has to do with your skin, not emotion." Walker murmured.
"I know what I said! See, we never disagree until she comes around!"
About 10 feet away, headed toward the men, was an elderly woman. Her pace was slow as she, obviously, relied on her cane for support. Not only did she have a sad face, there was a sadness about the way she walked. Leaning forward in order to balance herself against the massive hump she carried on her back. One ankle was swollen and the rupture of varicose veins apparent in both legs.
This was Haddy, an occasional visitor to the park. She made a point to come to the park on Sunday, rather than any other day. Haddy knew Ben and Walker were predictable about their attendance. However, her contribution to the men was never changing. She was always upset about something and would talk to Ben and Walker about her despair. For some reason, she had the most idiosyncratic perception of life.
This Woman Is Quick Witted with Perfect Comedic Timing (Home Instead is a senior care resource)
"Boys, it's so nice to see you are still alive and well. I thought I'd join you for a bit today. Don't worry, you don't have to invite me. I already know I'm not really wanted.
Both Ben and Walker move to their side of the bench making room in the middle for Haddy. Although they hated the addition, they knew this was the best placement to make Haddy feel secure.
Ben was the first to speak. "Okay Haddy, what's wrong today?"
"I'm upset with my parents." Haddy answered.
Walker looked at her and said, "Aren't your parents dead?"
"Yes, that's true, that's true. But it still doesn't explain the reason why they never warn me or prepared me"
"For what?" asked Ben
"Mama were so detailed in telling me about the birds and the bees. She left out the rest of it.
Ben just smirked and shuck his head from side to side. Walker just put his hand to his face and rolled his eyes. It was always like this. Haddy would talk about something, but neither Ben nor Walker could understand what she was saying unless they probed her.
"Haddy," said Walker, "will you just spit out what you are talking about?"
"Did your mother tell you about the birds and the bees?" asked Haddy.
Walker said, "Well she told me about the birds, but not the bees. She was allergic to bees."
And with that, both of the men started laughing. However, their laughter was cut short when they noticed Haddy frowning.
"This isn't funny!" said Haddy. Why aren't we educated about life without extending the enlightenment about aging? The children of today receive sex education and other resources to help learn about reproduction and other effects of being a youngster. Information regarding aging has never been provided. People should know what they will face as they grow older.
Ben said, " Haddy, in our youth, we don't think of aging as we are having too much fun living. Age creeps up on us without warning. I remember when I used to see old ladies and men walking around with their canes and walkers, I never imagined I'd be apart of that breed. Don't get me wrong, I knew I would grow old, but I guess the education about aging is all in the commercials you see on television. We see the elders of our family growing old and more so concentrate on keeping them healthy than we do at thinking 'one day this could be me.' For a long time, I never knew what the fuss was about Viagra. As I got older and lost certain abilities, I understood why everyone was talking about it.
"You also have to look at it this way Haddey," Walker interrupted, some people either don't want to think about getting old. There also are those who reach senior citizenship because they died earlier in their life. There's no guarantee the entire population will reach the 'elderly' status. There's so many companies and doctors making 'mad' money because of the aging process. It's more beneficial to talk about how to stay young rather than growing old."
Ben gazed at Haddy and said, "There are instructions for the youngsters about aging. Ever hear of 401k, IRA, and Social Security. Don't you consider awareness of the financial future a preparation for aging?
"I'm not talking about financial preparation. I am talking about spiritual and mental preparation. In my youth, I had a Walkman; the first model made. I loved listening to music. I always had the volume up high to filter out the background sound. Now, I have the volume high because of bad hearing. I used to jog and dance for exercise. But now, I can barely move due to crippling arthritis. Every part of me that used to be perky has been defeated by gravity. I always wore glasses. But each year they are getting thicker and thicker. I used to drive around town carefree. But now I have to really focus because sometimes I am nott aware of the change in traffic lights.forget to stop at a red light or forget to use the breaks. Trying to find my car after leaving a store takes me a good 5 minutes. My skin is all wrinkled, my teeth sit in a glass at night and my hair is falling out. Next, I'll be wearing diapers. I wasn't ready for this. I didn't know it would be this hard turning old."
Ben and Walker looked at each other, both shaking their heads. This was just another version of the doom and gloom Haddy always shared with them. It's not known if she was this way with others. Haddy knew Ben and Walker would listen to her and challenge her theories. She usually felt good after talking with them
"So Haddy," said Walker, "if you could do it all over, what would you do different? Would you get plastic surgery, use anti-aging creams, or take better care of your health?
"Plastic surgery and creams only hide the effects of aging. Those things don't stop the process. As far as taking better care of my health, I think I eat the right food and exercise. But it hasn't helped me to face this part of my life. I didn't take advantage of my youth which is why aging is difficult for me. I thought I had more time to do the things I wanted to do. Huh...here I sit, 75 years old with Social Security for support."
"Let me say this; Every one doesn't live life the same. Just like everyone doesn't age the same. Okay, you didn't take advantage of your youth, but you are 75 years old. Many people don't reach that achievement." said Ben as he stood up. "If you didn't do anything with your life, that was your decision. Growing old has nothing to do with it."
"We do not grow old!" shouted Haddy. "You can grow up but you can't grow old. We simply get to a point on the road of life and make a u-turn. Why do you think old folks talk about their past? It always starts the same, 'Back in my day...' Because it's life's u-turn, not a chapter in growth."
"And when is it we hit and then get out of the u-turn Haddie?" asked Walker.
"I'd say around the age of 45 is when we physically get to the mouth of the u-turn. And I'd estimate the age of 55 is when get out. Then we are on the road back to were we came. As we travel this road, we look to our right and see our past. Have you ever, all of a sudden, thought about something you did when you were younger? This happens what we see the memories of 45 and under on the opposite side of the road. The mythological experience reflects back to our thought processes.
Before she could continue, Ben interrupted and said, "What? Never mind! So, what's at the end of the road?"
"Shortly before we get to the end of the road, we revert back to infancy. We lose our teeth, our hair gets thinner, we have to wear diapers and need a caretaker to look after us. Then, the 'piece de resistance,' a taxicab is waiting at the end of the road to take us to who we believe is the creator. After a while our souls are recycled. Haven't you ever experienced déjàvu?"
"Urgh, first Haddy, you just said the hunger of a taxi cab. The phrase is 'fiesta resistance.' Let me know if you want me to write it down so you can remember it. What's with the 'who we believe is creator.'" Walker said in an annoyed tone.
"You don't have to get so snippy Walker. Different people have different beliefs. There is a taxi for all no matter what they believe," shouted Haddy!
"I think it's time for a break. Walker, I'm going to get a drink at the fountain. Would you like to join me? Haddy, do you want some water?" asked Ben.
"No, I'll be fine. You are going to come back...right?"
Walker looked back and said, "Yes Haddy, we will be back. We are just thristy."
While walking to the fountain, Ben and Walker briefly discussed Haddy's theories and both felt she had an unusual way of looking at it. However, it made sense. The conversation seemed to cheer her up at the end. Although they did not want to, Ben and Walker went back to their bench.
From a distance, they could see Haddy sitting in the same place they left her. They both cracked their necks to prepare for more Haddy oddities. There she was with her chin on her chest looking at the birds.
"Haddy, we're back. I wanted to know what happens to the people who don't make it to the u-turn because they die at an early age? Haddy? Haddy?" Ben said as he shook Haddy's shoulder.
Walker said, "Ben, she's dead. Look her eyes are open but she's not breathing."
"Oh well, I hope she had enough change to tip the cabby."