“Getting old is hell.” Advice from my grandfather years ago. As time builds up on me, I’m starting to realize the truth of his statement. Backs get creakier, joints wear out, muscles weaken, teeth break.
Do minds age, too? Shed memories and facts and knowledge like a tree lose leaves in the fall? I like to deny it, but I fear it may be so. Everyone I know over a certain age labels absentmindedness a “senior moment.” If she walks to a room to find a sweater and upon arrival has forgotten what she’s looking for, she blames aging.
One of the worst results of aging is that we lose the stories of our elders. I saw an old friend yesterday. As we chatted, he seemed disoriented; and I worried about his state of mind. I knew I’d miss the anecdotes of his recent travels, his sharp insights into politics.
I think about my grandfather and his tales about WW I. He was gassed in the trenches, survived the Depression. My mother, whose group of girlfriends daringly took nude photos of one another as teens. My father’s chronicles of a rough childhood in blue-collar Boston. (For more on this topic, see my “The Significance of Stories, http://sasee.com/2008/11/01/the-significance-of-stories/)
How do we capture and remember these extraordinary incidents in our senescence*? Usually we don’t. Sometimes writers will through their stories. Do you have family stories you recall or ones of your own you’d like to pass down?
* Senescence: the state or process of being old.
Luckily I get to hear all kinds of senior stories. I work part time at a Senior’s Residence and I have to say, its the best job in the world. I never truly know if the stories I am told are fact or fiction, but the core of the matter is, they are real moments in time for the senior, at least while they’re telling me, and that’s good enough. A story I shared with them today involved my own Grams baking her good hot-pad into a pie! Oh my!
Fantastic! And these situations aren’t limited to seniors. How many new cooks have roasted the bag of a turkey’s innards inside the turkey itself?