Last Friday I spent the better part of the day at a family get together.I always look forward to being with this particular group of individuals. All are in their sixties and seventies, each has worked hard during their lives, and has accumulated sufficient assets to be able to fill their days and nights doing what they want… where they want… how they want.
One who was an auditor and public school teacher became an extra in movies and television after his retirement and now plays guitar in not one but three different musical groups appearing regularly in New York City and parts of New England.
A couple now enjoy ball room dancing and have become really good at it.
One has pursued her religious education and lives her life to the spirit of the words.
A few have discovered pickle ball and golf.
A couple still work at their day job while writing novels – me; and singing regularly as part of three and five member bands all the way up to eighteen piece orchestras – my lady.
All have children and want the best for them. Those with grandchildren enjoy being with them and returning them to their parents at the end of their visits.
The discussion topics within this group always vary. Although each of the participants has strong and often conflicting views the important constant is that they can disagree without being disagreeable. (Don’t you wish our so called leaders – regardless of political party – were inclined and able to do that?)
During this particular family get together the conversation centered around getting older and addressing what each of us still hoped to do in the time we have left as active and independent individuals.
I find it interesting that in a world where youth is often revered, seniors, more often than not tend to look upon being older as a far better place than when they were in their twenties and thirties. Of course, we have no choice – the number is what the number is and there is no going back. But this more mature attitude, excuse me for showing a preference, is more than just recognizing the inevitable. To paraphrase what one of my Spanish teachers once said, “It puts the accent on the right sil-abb-ol”.
Young people who openly express their wishes and desires generally link each goal to accomplishing more, earning more, accumulating more. Seniors, me included, are more concerned with unloading the excesses in and around us… hoping we have prepared our children to make better choices… build more meaningful relationships… withstand the pitfalls that they almost certainly will face after we are gone.
I really like each of the people in this group. Each time we are together I learn something new. At this particular get together I learned that compassion and respect come in many shades and sizes. I learned how to better recognize the constants; you can only do so much in your life. At some point we need to stop questioning who and what we are – we cannot write our own obituary. In the end we can only hope to be remembered for the good things we stood for and forgiven for the mistakes we made along the way.
As long as there is still more time allotted to us we need to do more than just work on the narrative. I think that I am a far better individual today than any time in my past. Maybe the real lesson from Friday’s get together is to not look back.
I remember a small handwritten sign a former co-worker hung along the front edge of her desk, “Do the best you can today even though it won’t matter to anyone in 120 years”.
Maybe that should be the message for everyone – not just seniors.
What do you think????????????????