Spoiler alert….there is no gold in those “golden years”. Some might find silver, others bronze…but it is mostly metal. Oh, and P.S, it does not necessarily matter how you have lived your life.
The minute I got old enough to realize that I was not going to stay young forever, I started investigating my gene pool. Very important one’s gene pool is. That is as close as you are going to get to knowing how your senior years are going to play out.
Now, my gene pool is rather inconsistent. I am very fortunate in that I don’t have many dreaded diseases in my pool. Despite this, not all the ageing stories have had happy endings.
Medical history is something else you realize, only on getting older, that can prove to be of enormous importance. So, basically, once you go from the age of being highly irritated and confused by medical practitioners and/or questionnaires firing questions at you about your family’s health history, to being either terrified or grateful when answering these myriad of questions, is the moment you realize how important the answers actually are.
But I tend not to dwell on sickness and health. Me, I focus on quality of life. Both my parents lived into their 80’s, but for the last few years of their lives, I would not term it as ‘’living’’. It was a combination of existing at best, to suffering at worst. This I also saw with my grandparents. My paternal grandmother, however, was a little different.
This legendary lady (and a lady in the true sense of the word), lived to over 100. The last part of her life was not ailment free, but she got up and showed up every day. Her mind remained as sharp as a tack until the end. She made sure she looked amazing each and every day. Unfortunately, her body did not keep up with her mind, so she was bed ridden for a while. When the mind is fine, but the body is failing, I think that can even be more daunting, as you are fully cognizant of what is happening to you.
But then there is the alternative. I have been around old aged homes for quite some time, and a large percentage of the residents are alive, but not living. They become toddlers, and some even infants. It is dreadfully depressing, and seems so unfair. They sit in front of a TV screen, but are not watching. They sit next to someone, but are not socializing. They need to be fed, bathed and dressed. It is just awful.
For me personally, I believe that there was no consensus between our creator and our experts, as to life expectancy versus quality of life. We were not created to live as long as we do. That is the work of the wise ass experts, who found ways of prolonging lives. This is wonderful and all, but when you continue to prolong the lives of people who are not living, what purpose does that serve?
So, bottom line…whether you age with your mind still capable of seeing what is occurring to your deteriorating body, or whether your deteriorating mind prevents you from being aware of anything that is occurring….OLD AGE SUCKS!!
However…….as with anything…..there are ALWAYS exceptions!! Now, because I saw the way my parents aged, I desperately needed some hope that I just MIGHT not go through what they went through. Yes, I know, there are people who will yell from the rooftops, that they were blessed to live into their 80’s. Well rooftop people, my guess is that there came a point in their lives where neither of my parents would have agreed with you.
Enter my two aunties….one, my mother’s sister…and the other, my father’s sister. Yay….hope on both sides of my gene pool!! My mom’s sister is totally impressive. Very different to my mom. …she always kept herself busy and active, and approaching her 90’s, is still amazing, active and smart….a tad deaf, but she makes do. She lives in another Province, so I do not have the opportunity to ingest what she has done in order to still be living a good quality of life. But I see her once a year, keep in touch via a family chat group and Facebook….which in itself shows that she is someone to aspire to!!
Next…enter my father’s sister. Now, she has no knowledge of, or more importantly, the slightest desire to engage in social media. However, an absolute freak of nature. She had a 50% chance of having a fabulous gene pool (her mom was my 100+ grandmother). She always loved life and loved people in heaps. She was loud, crazy, fun and inspirational. Now I say ‘’was’’, as approaching her 90th birthday, she has calmed down a little….but only when no one is looking.
She is everything my father wasn’t. In fact, legend has it that she had got so angry with him on one occasion, she ran after him around the garden with an axe. Whether this is an exaggeration or not…something entirely possible with my legend of an auntie….is neither here nor there. She just needed to express that for every staid and proper trait that my dad had….she had a frivolous and fun trait!!!!! He was intolerant of her, irritated by her and often embarrassed by her….but that just made her more frivolous and fun.
She was THAT aunt….we had family functions there, I had my 21st and bridal shower there. My one brother ran away from home for a minute….to there. Her house was always open, loud and crazy!!
On a slightly more awkward note….my stupendously crazy auntie never wore a bra….never needed to!! Her bazookas could stand all on their own!! As a teenager I had two friends who always told everyone that my auntie had the best boobs of any woman they know. Try imagine, if you will, feeling awkward and proud at the same time…..that was me!! Just so you know, these two guys were more like brothers to me, and were as much part of my family as I was…so that makes it less awkward….well reading that back, I realize maybe not!
So, the thought crossed my mind, perhaps it was her zest for life that made her live this full and vibrant 90 years of her life. But, spoke in the wheel….my 100+ gran had all the staid and sturdy traits of my dad. So, there goes that theory. Although…a bit of a relief mind you, as I got the staid and sturdy traits too! So, perhaps there was still a fraction of hope of me LIVING to a ripe old age, as opposed to just ‘’being alive’’.
Then I moved onto the next possibility….she was the sole supporter of three children from fairly young, and opened her own landscaping business. She worked hard, she worked physically and honestly. She never asked for anything from others, looked after herself and her family to the best of her abilities, and remained completely self sufficient. Yay….that’s me….sole supporter….work hard, a percentage is physical and I too refuse to rely on, or accept from others. But has that been her saving grace?
All I knew, was that I needed to aspire to be this amazing woman…learn from her…..spend time with her…maybe by way of osmosis, I could also achieve the same results.
So spend time with her I have. We laugh, we chat, we talk, we reminisce….whatever floats our boat. With her….I am free….I am fun….I am wild….okay…totally not true, but I do kind of think I am.
Like the rest of the world, she wants me to find a man. One dinner together, she just launched into the conversation with no warning. She proceeded to tell me that before she dies, she wants to know that I have found someone. She also proceeded to scan the restaurant for any prospective suitors. This she did, to the point of not listening to a word I was saying, looked over my head continuously, and would intermittently ask if I minded bald men…hairy men….short or tall men, etc. I eventually realized that she was referring to these poor innocent sods having coffee in the coffee shop. Apparently I could have just handpicked any one that appealed to me. I bet if I had answered yes to any of the questions, she would have promptly got up and gone to have a chat with them about me. She even suggested I go to singles events, and said she would come with me if I wanted her to. Knowing her, she probably wanted it a little for herself too! Knowing me, she would have left with a man, and I would have left the same way I went in!!
Anyway….to my two senior aspirations, thank you for showing me that, should I get to 90 years of age (impossible to believe), there is hope that I can live my life, and not just be alive!!