DON’T LET THEM LOCK YOU IN!

 “Old Age hath yet his honour and his toil”

         Alfred Lord Tennyson “

“We have capitulated in face of the powerful social game which is entirely dedicated to doing rather than being, to success and profit, to know-how and to possession. There is no room left for inspiration in this turmoil, and creativity is inspiration. In order to be truly creative, one must stop to think, to re-think one’s personal goal in life, for a man’s true work is his life.       Paul Tournier, from his block-for-idook Creative Suffering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wander freely  through the  grass, the  bridges, the towns and now and then stop at a cafe for warm coffee. I climb up on rocks and tables, sit on the beach near the rolling waves, and at times the breakers catch me in their strong arms, and push me back to the shore; dripping with wet salty clothes. I laugh. I am cold, but I don’t care. I  captured the wild ocean in my camera!

Wh0 am I? I am a photographer, an artist, a painter, I learned to speak Italian, when I lived in Italy and traveled throughout Europe. I taught lively teens for 25 years.  Who am I?

These were my thoughts, as I entered the noisy restaurant with a friend, and was seated at a small worn table near the bar area. My attention swiftly turned to a slim lady seated comfortably at the bar. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her sparkling silver hair that was carelessly tossed in a stylish bob. She held a glass of wine in one hand while her fingers on her other hand bounced to the lusty music. When her face turned slightly toward me, I was startled by the dark age spots that dotted her face. The man beside her turned toward her, his arm slipped around her waist. I thought I saw a glimpse of love in his tired eyes. She turned toward him, her lips were a web of lines, but her smile was open and tender. My mind went to a “Norman Rockwell” moment. Ah I envisioned what a beautiful painting the couple would make  The  “splendid youth of old age,”  I coined to myself.

Then my thoughts turned to old retired Freddie. It was just last week I saw him at Jenny’s Coffee shop. I was the first customer of the day. My weather worn watch told me it was just 7:00 am. Jenny had started the coffee brewing. It made loud burping sounds, sounds that delighted my ears, signaling me that the delicious blend would soon be ready. Freddy slowly opened the smudged glass door. He hesitated, his gnarled hands shaking, and then he thrust the entrance way-open. I always enjoyed Freddy as he enlivened and educated me with the tales of the town’s history. He was 91 years old, and as bright as any  professor at Princeton University. He retired from his law practice 15 years ago, but still handed out advise freely. He was known as “Retired Freddie. “Broke”, he said last week, ” I am broke. I gave my daughter power of attorney over my estate. She fooled me.” I wondered what he meant, but didn’t ask. Today, he walked with a more pronounced limp, his car keys jingled in his hand. The wrinkles on his face seemed to collapse as he slid onto the stool. I thought I saw a tear caught on the rim of his dull black glasses. His faded eyes looked toward Jenny as she handed him the fresh coffee. He whispered, “I am dying, I am dying”. Frightened, Jenny braced herself against the counter to support herself. Trembling, I leaned over and touched the tattered shoulder of his jacket. “What do you mean. Freddie,” we both chimed together. “I am dying, I am dying, my daughter is sending me to a nursing home.” he sobbed. The tear slipped soundless from the rim of his glasses.”Where is the nursing home,” exclaimed Jenny. “An hour trip from here. An hour drive from here, an entire hour,” he moaned. Freddie slipped from his stool, threw a few dollars on the counter. “Goodbye my friends, I am dying, he murmured.” Just as Freddie reached the door, Jenny moved from behind the counter, trying to stop him. But she was too late. He disappeared before she reached the door. A cold wind blew in the coffee shop as she hollered after him…. “Freddie, Freddie, don’t let them lock you in….don’t let them lock you in.” Her words echoed – but were lost in the brisk fall wind. A few brownish leaves scurried into the coffee shop and were caught under her black shoes before she closed the door. She turned toward me, her face was wet with tears. We knew his daughter would never go to see him. She hated driving. She often reminded any one that bothered to listen to her just how much she despised driving.

Michelangelo said, “Many believe -that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age I do not want to give it up. I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him.

The above accounts above are true stories. Names and places have been changed.       When I retired in February, 2016, from teaching, I instantly sensed I was being treated differently. In fact, someone kindly wanted to give me something to do, so “you won’t be bored ” they softly said.   Just as when the waves of the sea caught me and I tumbled back onto the beach  I laughed; I laughed at this suggestion.

I read somewhere that we tend to think of older  and retired people as less productive than the younger ones, the opposite is true. Age 55 and on upwards people tend to be more reliable and in many cases, more productive. Why does not ageing carry with it more “honour” than it does – in our society that seems to value youth.

Who am I? Retired? Yes, but wait a minute, No, I am just starting “the splendid youth of old age,”  I coined to myself.  My new beginning.  Old, maybe some people would say, but ah – I have the knowledge and wisdom neatly packaged inside. Unlike Freddie, I refuse the title “Retired.”

                  DON’T STOP! DON’T STOP! DON’T LET THEM  LOCK YOU IN!!

My questions : why does society frequently treat retired or older people so poorly? Why isn’t the wisdom gathered by the old, used by the young? Or is it being used? I wrote the example of the “Norman Rockwell” couple and Freddie. Which way are you headed? Or are you already there? Who are you?  What will your Identity become?

I would love to hear your views on your identity as you grow older!  nd how older people are doing. Please post your ideas!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “DON’T LET THEM LOCK YOU IN!

  1. nancy Halter says:

    Wow June, what a wonderful way to start my day, reading your thoughts! I love the way you write with your descriptive language. You really paint a picture! Love the quotes too. I can totally relate to your theme of course and I’m happy to say that I’m loving me new identity of singer/entertainer/artist. God has been putting me in the right place at the right time and I’ve been so busy performing. After years of singing for free or just tips I’m actually getting paid singing gigs! It’s a nice bonus. Also getting ready for a craft show this Sat. so am busy painting. Haven’t been doing any writing lately but I will again when the time is right for that. I do not miss being in the classroom at all! Let’s talk on the phone soon. Thanks for your inspirational ideas! God bless you. Love you! Nancy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Penny says:

    Wow. Powerful and provocative, June. I think some people see aging and growing older as a curse rather than the blessing that it truly is. Instead of embracing it and the wisdom that it brings, people fear it because they think it means that life is over as they know it. Life will be what we each make it to be. Being a seasoned citizen is a privilege and has its benefits, more so than when we were first starting out. Now we can enjoy the fruits of our labor and endeavor to learn and do new things, and there are so many things to do! To me, age is simply a number; we are as old or as young as we want to feel. It always comes down to perspective.

    Blessings, my friend.
    Penny

    Like

  3. juneeberle says:

    Your words add so much to my writing. I am concerned for many who are trapped in nursing homes. A 90 year old,spry Nun, that I met at a party told me about the many people in nursing homes, once they go in they just vegitate. Eat & sleep. The nun tries to motivate them but they just want to sleep. I also know others that just want to stay at home and watch TV. Sounds awful!!
    I decided when I retired to take a photograph a day, learn something new each day and find new words everyday. The words are a problem as I don’t use them. It’s wonderful to have time ! I will be taking s Caligraphy class in a week. I still haven’t found my true path, but I have a book in mind. I suppose everyone does. 😀 I need to Master Word Press!! I am glad for your friendship.!!! Thanks again for your sweet words. Let me know what you are up too, along with running. I
    Admire your running skill!! Wa hoo!!🏃🏻👣👑

    Like

  4. Andrea Meredith says:

    I love this post. I am grateful for every year that passes. I turned 60 in June and on my birthdays I always think of those who didn’t make it to my age. One is my husband who passed at 55. Another is a friend who passed at 61. I read many obituaries of people who are only in their 40’s, and 50’s. I feel lucky and honored to have had another year. I, too, live with the truth that age is just a number. I will say that this is the first milestone year that I have really thought about. It didn’t bother me to turn 40 or 50. I am not bothered by turning 60 but I am aware that in ten years I will be 70. Part of me wants to laugh at that idea. I do what I can to stay healthy in body but I think mental health is more important. I am interested and curious still about things of which I know nothing. My goal is to continue to challenge myself. My number one asset is my sense of humor. I don’t know where I would have ended up without it. I am enjoying my newfound bluntness in saying what I will accept and what I will not. I like the wisdom that has come along to aid me in my further years. And I am grateful for those people in my life who inspire me endlessly. That is a shout-out to the kindred spirit who shared this. You know who you are!!! My best, Judy. Andrea

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Penny says:

    How sad that some people in nursing homes simply give up on their lives…

    Ahh, I love that you take a photograph a day! Send them my way so I can post them on my blog with credit to you…they will give me something to write about! I love photography and capturing images that exude Spirit. Maybe we can come up with a book idea together??? Hmm…

    You’ll have no problem mastering WordPress…I’ve been using it for a few years…there’s still more to learn, but I’ve got the basics down and can help out.

    I’m glad for your friendship, too. Keep writing and sharing your beautiful Spirit here…love it!!!
    Penny

    Like

  6. Kate says:

    Wow. Very powerful. It is very true how our society deems retirees to be thrown away. Even our commercial tends to say growing old is a bad thing. Why are we always looking for the fountain of youth. Why is this?
    I had the privilege to know my grandparents for a long time. My grandmother was 90 when she passed. My grandfather when he was 95. They were an amazing couple. I would listen to my grandfather lived through 95 years of his life. I was such in awe of him. He saw and experience so much in the world. He always kept working. He kept moving. He never felt he was worthless because he was getting older. Once my grandparents sold thier house in Rhode Island. They came to live in NJ close to us. So we could help out and just visit them more. Yes they were upset to lose some kind of independence but when my grandmother passed away. Grandpa came to live with us. I was married at the time, but I would always visit him listen to my grandfather even if he repeated the stories. I loved it. Now my parents are the grandparents and they keep moving. My mom is 74 and my dad is 85. They are so active then they ever been. It’s such a beautiful thing. My father feels wanted bc he drives for the county and does meals on wheels. My mom, a retired nurse , volunteer at HMC ER and helps with her church. She loves it. Just feeling that are still able might be the key. No one rips away thier independence. That’s the way it should be.
    It saddens me that in your story the older man has been thrown away buy his own child. So sad. We as a society to embrace them and learn from their stories. They are human beings not trash.
    Love your stories very thought provoking. Love you and keep it up…

    Like

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