EIGHTY YEARS


EIGHTY YEARS
I sit across the table from friends at a restaurant for lunch.    They mention that they are looking for a new eye doctor, their’s recently died.   I ask who he was, they tell me.   I am shocked as he was also my husband’s eye doctor.    How old was he  I ask, he was eighty. I used to say to the dental hygienist where I had gone for many years that I hoped she would not retire until after I had died.   Well she retired, I’m still here.  
WE talk of our careers.   Most of us feel we’ve had a pretty good life with a few hiccups along the way.     One friend lives with her daughter and is grateful.   She now has company and is able to share the expenses of housing.    Another friend age eighty five is getting married this next week, he just bought the rings for his new fiancee whom he met at a square dance social. 
We speak of a friend who at 85 when she was told she needed minor emergency surgery in order to live.   The surgeon told her if she had the surgery she would probably live another 10 years. She chose not to have the surgery.       
Children are mentioned.     Those we see, those whom we rarely  see.    Among all the friends there are few who have children who make regular or any contact.        There is a generally an accepted resignation that you cannot count on your children to care for you or about you at this stage of life.  No-one wants to be a burden, no one wants to go into a nursing home or assisted living. We all know, however, that is where we will go if we  live  past eighty.   “Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”  Oscar Wilde.   
To divert from feeling depressed and hopeless about our futures some have martinis, some travel a lot, some stay busy with a multitude of committees and volunteer work.   Our memories are going, not being able to recall certain words is common.   We laugh and commiserate.   We are all in the same boat.    
The meaning of life has to shift from being the center of someone’s life; i.e., your children a spouse who has since passed on or a parent who was responsible for the family.     You are now on the edge of the circle and to find some meaning as you start to become invisible to that family and community is a challenge.   Knowing that we only have a few years left,we want to  be at peace with ourselves and our families .   How we get there is the challenge.     We are not reared in a society where we are expected to be alone.   It is easy to become curmudgeon and frightened.   
          

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