Of late, I have been considering new and different things in my old age. How should I set up my retirement account? Should I wait on claiming Social Security? Will I ever consider working again? Should I really be playing pickleball? Is four days a week reasonable for going to the gym? How many times a week can I meet friends for lunch? How close together can I make speaking engagements? Nothing hard - just retirement questions about how I will spend my days and our money.
As I have been considering such things, I have been reminded of others who are older than I am, who have come to me with much deeper considerations. A little while back, a 70-something year old lady who lives in my neighborhood came to ask me if, when she died, I would take in her teenage granddaughter. She said that she just wanted for her to be with a good person, and that she could tell that I was good. I asked her if she had a condition that made these thoughts imminent. But she was just trying to think things through ahead of time. We talked more. Over time, she began to find more options, and eventually her daughter sobered and strengthened, and things weren’t quite as dire. I was honored that she came to me.
Once a lady came, sat down in my office and said, “I have not been a nice person. Actually, most of my life I have been a mean person. I am 81 years old and I want to learn to be a nice person. I thought maybe you could help me with that.” Wow! I told her that I sure would try! So we talked and I listened. She’d had a foster kid life. Gotten Highly Educated. Married, had kids, divorced. Angry since age 2. Didn’t want to do that Jesus thing, even now. She is open, funny and charming – without knowing it. I enjoy her company. So smart and experienced. I think she’s tired of lashing out – she certainly hasn’t toward me. She just wants forgiveness. Maybe those around her can do that Jesus thing.
Yes, old age brings new thoughts and paradigm shifts. My newest friend is Miss Evie, a 74 year old from the Philippines. Her given name is Eusebia. We landed on the same pickleball court. Now, Miss Evie is relatively new to pickleball, but old to tennis. Miss Evie is solidly beating us on the pickleball court. When she makes a good shot, she stands still and her face seems to say, “There’s that.” If she can’t get to a shot, she just shrugs her shoulders and the game goes on. I am her friend because basically she let it be known that she had recently lost her husband, and is starting a new life of her own, and wants to make friends. She is sweet and funny, and puts herself out there. She has lived everywhere and landed here. Bold and courageous. I am glad I’ve met her.
Have you met or listened to any older people lately? They know things and want things, and are interesting. Once, an older friend nonchalantly told me that her husband was the lead engineer for the bomb that dropped on Hiroshima. Wow! After Covid, I might start a campaign to just sit down and eat with the older singletons that I see in restaurants. I would ask so many questions. Now that would be an interesting campaign. And that would be a great way to spend my time.
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