My paternal great grandmother lived to the ripe old age of, 108. She was active until she was about 105.
As a young girl, I was surrounded by senior citizens. My mom was a program director for a senior daycare, where she provided daily activities to help keep them active and engaged. She has a gift and passion for keeping the dignity of flailing elders in tact. She continues to do private duty with seniors, even 38 years later. Now, she’s a senior too.
Our society has etched out the vital role that elders in other (indigenous) cultures are allotted. Growing older in cultures where your experience and wisdom are cherished must be easier and more welcoming, than how we approach it here, in the U.S. As for myself, I don’t live my life with the backdrop of tomorrow’s old age looming. As far as growing old gracefully, I can’t say if I will ever let my grays grow out, or stop pampering my skin.
With that said, let me tell you about a fleeting moment that occurred today.
I was passively watching a show on Netflix when a passing moment caught my attention; for the first time, I didn’t relate to the majority of the actors on TV, who were mostly in their twenty’s and thirty’s. The younger generation became othered, as I distinguished myself, as being from an older generation.
Let me reiterate, it was fleeting. By fleeting, I mean it was more of an embodied experience than a thought. Also, there was a lack of dread, or fear of growing old. I both embraced, and felt foreign to this paradoxal moment. It was neither a moment of surrender, nor cause for alarm; rather one of distinction, between where I once stood, as a twenty and thirty-year old, and the age I am now.
Had I lost the capacity to relate to this generation, or simply an interest? There wasn’t a hint of inferiority, or superiority, it was different – distinguishing. I don’t feel different about myself, in fact, I like myself, but something changed, or, is changing.
Writing this blog is my first attempt to respond to this fleeting moment. I can’t predict how things will unfold in light of it, but I am willing to listen to the inner and outer voices that stand to offer wisdom and insight.
I give props to my mother, Sally Padilla, whom I know has touched the lives of thousands of senior citizens for nearly forty years. The image of her affecting the lives of so many souls, otherwise disregarded by society, lifts my heart, and makes me proud to call her my mother.
I love you mom.