Today I spent time taking my elderly mother-in-law to the grocery and back to the independent living facility where she now lives. During the course of the day I came in contact with others of advanced age, mostly past 85 years, and several things struck me about the different ways people age. Some accept changes graciously and others struggle against every challenge.
At the restaurant, a buffet, where she wanted to have lunch there were several other senior citizens, some with family or friends and others alone. One lady out with what I would guess was her grand daughter pusher her walker along while the younger woman attempted to fill her plate for her. She rejected almost every suggestion, complained that there was no roast chicken, even though the offerings I noticed included fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, chicken fingers as well as roast beef, barbequed ribs and fish. She refused salad, saying she saw on the news that it was poison. The young woman patiently continued to ask do you want this or that until the lady finally said she had enough and they went to a table.
In contrast, a spry looking lady that I overheard tell her companion that at 92 she preferred easy to chew foods as she spooned dumplings onto her plate and commented how delicious they looked. When I went to get cake for Nana and me this lady was deliberating between strawberry jello or cheesecake. She asked me which I thought would be best and we had a very short visit.
On to the grocery store where I often notice human nature at its worst and occasionally at its best. For some reason there is always that couple shopping together with the man taking charge of the cart and defending his woman’s right to the entire aisle as if he is king of the place. It must have hurt when my cart, all by itself, rolled into his ankle right in front of the canned tomatoes. We survived and got Nana and her purchases back to her apartment with no unpleasant incidents.
There as my husband and I were carrying the bags down the hall I noticed a couple in front of us walking slowly along. She was using a walker as was he, but they were pushing those contraptions with only one hand because each of them was holding onto the others hand between them. Their heads were tilted together in conversation. That gave me a smile.
We will all either grow old or die young. Those are the possibilities. Some of us will remain healthy to the end and others will have to accept the limits imposed by illness. I think what ages one most is the negative attitude I saw today and what is most likely to keep one feeling young and healthy is graciously accepting what life gives us. I hope to live everyday until I die, not just struggle along bitching all the way. Not that I won’t bitch, I just hope to at least be jolly about it.