For those of us who have reached “a certain age,” that of late adulthood (65+), life takes on a whole new meaning. Mourning midlife becomes an everyday occurrence.
Passion breeds affection.
The future shortens.
Belongings lose importance.
We are actually quite invisible to a society in which technology rules. Communication is by abbreviations and emojis on social media platforms, where eye contact and shaking hands are a thing of the past. Baby boomers are obsolete, you say? No longer part of the bigger picture?
Whatever happened to the mythology of the old crone, full of wisdom gained through a life of pain and sorrow? Wisdom gained by suffering through the human condition, witnessing countless tragedies and upheavals, hoping so desperately to make meaning of it all, and to leave the world better than you found it?
At times, I feel invisible out there. Ignored by sales clerks. Doors closed in my face. Cars beeping their horns at crosswalks. Doctors writing everything off to aging, impatient and patronizing. Young people snickering as I walk by, albeit moving more slowly. Opinions being cast aside. Conversations shortened. Phone calls being ignored. (Did I really grimace at times when I saw my father’s name on caller ID, not wanting to hear about his latest health problems? Would that I could see his name come up just one more time…I would answer it in a heartbeat.)
In my lifetime, I saw black and white TVs turn into color. I saw man’s first step on the moon. I remember where I was when Kennedy was shot. I got my first calculator as a Junior in college and said goodbye to my slide rule. I witnessed the carnage of 9/11, and saw mankind at war so often that I’ve lost count. I saw computers go from the size of huge rooms to fitting into my pocket. I saw gay marriage recognized. And I watched as a society became inured to active shooters and their messages of hate.
I have a lived quite a lifetime in these 65 years. I’ve been through marriage and divorce, illness, the loss of jobs and identities, childbirth, the death of both parents, along with 11 years of higher education (yes, you read that right). I could go on and on, but I won’t. Suffice it to say, to borrow the words of a man by the name of Elton John, “I’m Still Standing.”
My life counts for something. I matter. And I will not remain invisible to a society that shows so little respect to the elderly.
Ageism, ugly as it is, exists. But I will not be ignored.
I have a voice, and my truth will be heard.
I have eyes that see with compassion and love.
I have hands that will continue to reach out.
I have ears that actively listen.
I have a smile that welcomes you into my space.
I have wisdom to share with the generations that follow me, ready for the taking.
I will continue to create and nurture and mentor and bring about positive change.
I will produce. I will be involved. I will contribute.
And I will find a way for my contributions to outlast me, however small.
Countless graces have been bestowed upon me in this lifetime, and I am truly blessed.
Now let me pass those gifts on to others.