So you’ve finally reached that dreaded S status. In ancient cultures, old people, as they were called then, were revered in ways almost akin to worship. But this modern world seems a world away from that time long ago.
Save for the 20-percent discount seniors get at restaurants, drugstores, supermarkets and hospitals, many are not finding it so great. Seems to most, only health care matters, as it should be. Rich or poor, Filipinos are great at taking care of their sick.
But the healthy psyche and a person’s sensitivity are almost dismissed and not addressed. As long as he can walk, talk and appear healthy, he is deemed normal. And appearances are quite deceiving.
Despite their long lives and varied experiences, seniors need as much constant assurance as any human being because of their insecurities.
You may be a youthful 60 or 70, but are deeply depressed and ready to be dust in the wind. It’s because your mind may feel 25 and fully aware of the verve in your bones. But, the mirror tells a different, almost cruel story by just reflecting the deepening crevices in your face.
The feeling that you’ve become invisible hurts when you recall how you turned heads once upon a time but are hardly noticed now. Even your husband looks at you with as much interest as he would the wall paper in your bathroom.
Your nearest and dearest friends you reached out to are mostly gone or groaning from a newly replaced hip, or lying comatose, waiting for that final boarding call.
When you go haywire after feeling alone and lonely—it becomes a big deal when children and friends who promise to call but don’t, making you feel as unimportant as a dirty rag—the hurt is palpable in your gut. When you have no one to turn to, the whole world seems to close in, so much that you start having difficulty breathing! What’s happening, you start to ask. Having a stroke? Heart attack? Dying?
Parents also might not feel worthy anymore in their role. They slide toward irrelevance in their kids’ lives, and their disrespect is nuanced, too—knowing they cannot be depended on for financial help, since they have become helpless themselves. It hurts to be left out or uninvited at family events.
Days of sunshine
There are clearly days of sunshine when engaged with a favorite phone pal, unearthing troves of old memories, laughing at remembered childish foibles in school, and just being young again for an hour or two.
Or you could be the unlucky listening post for some needy caller you’d rather not hear from—characters who have remained boring as doorknobs, broken records of sorts with their insipid, uninteresting stories. But the Good Samaritan in you listens and listens till the other end has vented all the perceived aches and pains.
These are just bumps on the road of a long life. And now, having lost control over your kids, freed from climbing the various ladders to succeed and the compunction for branded materialism, you now only have your mortality to think of, and this whole panorama of uncertainty stares down at you.
You then zero in on the aches you’re feeling, and start worrying about being afflicted with some incurable illness and rendered senseless, leaving your family penniless as they strive to keep you alive. Didn’t an old classmate just die from nothing?
Have you become an outcast instead? You send regrets for invitations to reunions, knowing you’d only be the pesky seatmate, constantly asking people to repeat everything because you didn’t hear a word that was said. Or you feign a headache to get out of a walking tour in a historical town because despite your cane, you’d still be holding on to someone’s arm, while your friends try to walk fast past you.
You feel the only safe adventure you’re permitted to have alone is to walk from your bed to the kitchen, or to reach the bathroom without falling down.
You’re hurt because that’s how they see you now, but you agree it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your thoughts are full of what ifs and how ifs, but you’d rather not die just yet. Not today, at least.
Hey kids, you’re not alone in this seeming gloom and doom. Get out of the confines of your old body, which is only that way chronologically, and latch on to your youthful mind, and let it ooze with your wonderful memories!
Revive the excitement of your youth and recall the ordeals you’ve triumphed over, the punishing projects that came through that made you a success, that romantic love whose touch has remained on your skin, those gastronomic adventures your taste buds refuse to forget, the books you devoured that made you write well, the fun places you visited first in history books, then in reality.
Let them fill up your senses, and remember them like they just happened yesterday. Those bits and pieces of remembered stuff made you what you are now. You’ll have enough time in the firmament to mull over all the other would-haves and could-haves of reminiscences and heartaches, if you’ll still have room to care for them.