I see old people.
They make me cry (and not because they push me over, although if they did, I’d probably cry even more).
I can’t control myself. I see them struggling to cross busy roads with their walkers, and I cry. I see them holding hands and smiling across the table at each other – HAPPY OLD PEOPLE! – and I still cry.
I’m not sure what it is(I AM sure a shrink would have a field day with me) but old people mess with me. Sometimes the reality of the depth and breadth of their lives whacks me in the gut, and I find it hard to breathe. There’s so much they would hold in their minds, their hearts, their memories, the touch of their hands… and it overwhelms me.
There’s such richness. And such frailty. So much to share. And not so much time to share it. There’s a slowness about them. But a sense of urgency too. The pendulum swings…
And I feel it all whenever I see an older person in any setting. Good or bad.
I took this photo in Melbourne, on Christmas Eve, in 2006. We were visiting a retirement home, and singing Christmas carols with the residents (well I wasn’t. I was looking after some cute short people. Which gave me a chance to take this photo.) This beautiful lady was by this man’s side, holding his hand and talking softly to him, throughout the time we were there. It was so special. I see old people. I love old people.
“Memory is the mother of all wisdom.” Samuel Johnson
Whenever I get the chance these days (particularly when I’m walking the streets of my suburb, or sitting in a coffee shop), I talk and ask questions and listen and glean from any old person I can find, wherever and however I can.
There’s wisdom. There’s life experience. There’s generosity in their sharing. There’s delight that someone cares enough to ask. There’s usually no more facade or masks at this stage of life. And I love it.
I see old people.
I SEE old people.
And I love them.
“As we grow in wisdom, we pardon more freely.” Madame de Stael