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Several years ago, I climbed the mountain. What mountain, you may ask? This mountain, the mountain I had to climb, the mountain that all Adam’s children must climb, the mountain that is before most of you and behind some of you, this mountain that rose inexorably before me, immovable…
“Get on with it!”
All right, all right. Don’t angry up your blood. Like I was saying (until I was rudely interrupted), I climbed the mountain: I turned … 50. Unbelievable, isn’t it – I don’t look a day over 49. The only thing that gave me any comfort was the fact that my wife preceded me in the long climb by a few months. At least I’ll have company on the road to senility.
Speaking of changing tires, I was reading an article the other day, “Designs for Dementia” by Marni Jackson. Since, as she put it, “the great senelization of the boomer bulge is almost upon us,” products will need to be developed to aid in their elder years. Some of these are “must have” items, things no self-respecting boomer will want to be without such as Elder Post-Its. “We’re all familiar with cubicles a-flutter with Post-Its reminding us of tasks and passwords. But with age, we will buy more and more Post-Its, while forgetting to write anything on them. But Elder Post-Its ease this transition; each package is already printed with universal reminders, such as ‘Call accountant,’ ‘Book colonoscopy,’ and ‘Close the fridge.’”
Next week I’ll be attending the Depart With Dignity for my old (oops) boss and it reminds me that my own retirement is much closer than I’d like to think. And after retirement? Well, many years of the ‘good life,’ but then I also just returned from a funeral for my wife’s step-mother and funerals are stark reminders of mortality. (Gee, he’s morbid, isn’t he?)
When you’re young – 20 or so – 50 is a looooong way off. But as you climb the mountain, 50 is quite suddenly the next rest stop – better hope there’s a bathroom. It’s disconcerting. But getting older is a victory of sorts (over disease and bad judgment) and it beats the alternative! But still, no one lives forever (There he goes again!), so how do we age well?
In my experience (and I am over 50), those who age most gracefully are those who have come to terms with mortality, who don’t stick their fingers in their ears “Lalalalala, I can’t hear you” fashion. Ageing gracefully is not a matter of grimly hanging onto youth, staying ‘hip,’ being ‘with it’ (whatever ‘it’ is), still less denying death comes for all (Really?! You had to say that word, huh?).
As the poet and Anglican cleric, John Donne, so eloquently wrote (and if I may be a little ‘religious’ for a moment),
“Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dos overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me….
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death thou shalt die.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take a nap.