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Sophie's Choice: You will one day be old. Yes, you.

October 17, 2012

I think we have a tendency to treat old people like old dogs. Maybe we treat the old dogs better. At least they get fawned over and tossed a bone now and then (or in the case of my 13-year-old black lab, I have a coworker who occasionally brings her a small cup of plain Froyo and another who throws her more than one biscuit).
Not to sound world-weary or discriminatory, just an observation that I have made recently that has been incessantly trotting on the hamster wheel of my mind. It started when May (previously mentioned black lab) came to live with me and we began our daily walks around town. My “puppy” isn’t as spry as she once was and has taken on a bit of a limp in her more mature years. Her gimp, combined with her frosty gray muzzle and forepaws have been the focus of concern every once and awhile from a sympathetic passerby. Sometimes they ask about her condition and if she is on any pain meds. Sometimes they inquire if I have read up on Glucosamine, the natural compound that is found in healthy cartilage and helps alleviate painful joints. I have, and she is. I don’t mind at all that they ask; I know people’s intentions are good and they are just attempting to be friendly. Once in a great while, though, I get that overly knitted brow, stern glance and, “She’s too tired to walk,” or “She looks a little too old to be getting around like that anymore.”
I understand that you mean well, dear people, but the day May gets too old to walk and enjoy the things that make her wag her tail like a squirrel on speed is the day that I will sadly let her go on to the Great Duck Pond and Doggy Meadow in the afterlife. So what does this have to do with AARP crowd, you might ask? Perhaps I haven’t been paying enough attention) I’ve been accused of ADD like tendencies before), but it seems to me that we do a lot to shunt our old folks aside these days. My generation was raised by the prior generation who gleefully sang along to The Who line, “Hope I die before I get old,” from the song “My Generation” no less. Well guess what, the Baby Boomers are getting old now and it seems like that’s a national freak-out in a country whose current society idolizes youth, beauty and longetivity (but the last shouldn’t be at the expense of the first two) over wisdom and experience.
Quite often I have heard (and I’m sure you have too) “Old people shouldn’t be allowed to drive!” “Don’t they know when to retire?” or (and this was an extreme case) “Why don’t you just shut up and knit something or die?”
Granted, age discrimination runs the gamut. Young people have less than kind pictures painted of them as well (as if each generation just keeps getting worse and worse than the last).
But I know that though I am 28 now, time goes by like a greased road runner on a slip n’ slide (there’s a visual for you). None of us, no matter how much Botox we inject in our foreheads, or what kind of hot car we buy, will be young forever. So I hope when I’m an old dog, limping my way around the block, as carefree and content as ever, someone might have the good graces to engage me in pleasantries, or at least give me the thumbs up and a “Keep on truckin’, grandma!”
*To those who have taken the time to read through this, I dig comments, criticism, or any excuse that allows me to check my email. So if you would like to vent or share, please send questions and whatnot to Sophia@statesmanexaminer.com.

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