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"The Wondering Jew"

Oct. 18, 2001 - 19:30 MDT


Golden Oldies ?

It is funny how what someone says can light a fire in another person's line of thought, like fire in a train of gunpowder. Reading Secra's entry tonight reminded me that satisfactory elder life usually is lived by couples.

Her account of two very elder people, out and about, each pretty well reliant on each other reminds me of a time I lived in recent years.

A short account is that we suffered a catastrophic auto accident when I was 76 years old. We were both wearing seat belts but the roof was bashed in on my side and I suffered a broken neck and attendant nerve damage and other injuries.

Time spent in hospital was almost a month at which point I could function well enough that I was sent home. I had great difficulty in using my right arm and some of my muscles had atrophied. Basically I was an outpatient as it seemed as if I was seeing one doctor or another constantly. A physical therapist came to our apartment and taught me the exercises needed and would oversee my exercise for about an hour each time she came. I would carry on during the times she was not here.

My Lady Heather although badly shook up in the wreck and suffering from the shock of our world turned around calmly and bravely took over doing the things that had to be done to help me back to as near physical well being as could be done. The very first thing that she did was make arrangements to buy us a new car, a companion Saturn three years older than the wrecked one. For well over a year about the only things I did and those with difficulty was arise in the morning and with clumsy effort dress myself, sit down and eat, very carefully bathe and several times a day do the strengthening and range of motion exercises.

Heather did all the rest, everything. She would hover nearby while I did the necessary actions in the bathroom. She would drive us to the park to walk about for the purpose of helping me gain better muscular control, build up endurance and exercise aerobically as much as possible. Lady Heather kept all the records, paid all the bills, did all the running of errands, pampered and fed a rather difficult man who resented being at the physical level he was forced to live. Even after I was somewhat recovered it was very easy for circumstances to unman me and try my small amount of patience to the utmost.

But for the most part she and I walk the path of life shoulder to shoulder albeit leaning on each other a bit. What I can't do, she does and what she can't do I take care of.

We seem to have tolerance to each others foibles to an extent that I don't think young people understand. It seems to me that we have finally realized that no one is perfect, and the snapper, neither are we. Loving each other in spite of who and what we are, not necessarily because of.

Heather is still giving her love and care to me in an exemplary manner with little reward other than my total gratitude and love. She is human though and is not bashful in letting me know when I am too demanding or too far off base. If I could have written the specifications for the perfect wife, the book of "specs" would have been titled, "Heather."

As a comparison, related to us are two very nice younger people (hell, everyone is younger than we are)in their late thirties or early forties who are now living apart. Some time ago he was incapacitated by something falling on him in one of those huge discount stores. He is no longer able to work, but has enough income to be comfortable. She has money of her own too. Now he is on his own, alone. Her attitude is that she didn't expect to be married to and play nursemaid to a man the rest of her life, so she milked their assets and kicked him out (he had moved into her house when they married).

How supremely fortunate I am to be married to a wife, one who has stuck by me through thick and thin, one who has quietly done everything to help me when I couldn't help her in return and is still taking up the slack for a crippled husband. Yeah, I have a bad back and pull a little cart holding an oxygen bottle behind me, tire easily and am somewhat grouchy about not being able to do more of the things I was capable of once.

It seems to me that elder love is the human condition of loving each other in spite of who they are and what they are. The process of meeting each day with as close to a smile as possible and with equanimity and love one for the other.

Maybe we are examples of Golden Oldies ? . . . . . . .

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