We live in an area that is EXTREMELY popular with the retirement-aged people. EXTREMELY. So much in fact, that during the winter when the “snow birds” descend our church offers TWO Masses on Saturday evenings to cover the additional population in the pews. It makes for interesting living, driving and working. Our children learned early (and are still learning) to be more patient, helpful and kind with older folks; watching out for canes, walkers and holding doors for lots of people. Practice makes perfect, right? They get a lot of it. Our youngest refers to them as “elders” rather than elderly, it’s sweet and we don’t correct her. Unfortunately, our kids also see a lot of selfish behavior from this generation, judgemental comments and looks and rude actions mixed in…..these times lead to GREAT teaching moments and life observations to hopefully better prepare them as they grow and age. I certainly get a lot of lessons at work from these “elders” as well, let me share:
- The “Golden Years” are not for sissies. If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, I’D be retired…seriously!
- The people who age the best, enjoy life. They eat, they drink, they dance, they laugh, sometimes they even smoke. I ask. This is a pretty common response!
- Moderation. They eat, they drink, they dance (those hip replacements ain’t as flexible as the real deal ya know!), they smoke….in moderation. Because they laugh. A LOT. Enjoying life.
- They exercise. They play tennis. Softball. Bike. Walk. Hit the gym. Dance. Swim. Yoga. Regularly. It’s like breathing. They just do it. It’s physical. It’s social. It’s routine.
- They volunteer. Now in my age group we may feel those little kiddos are graying us prematurely, but in reality, they keep us young. All those activities and extracurriculars? They keep us moving. Off the chair. Off the couch. Cheering. Inspiring. Encouraging. As a side benefit kids are exhausting and we sleep well as a result (generally), and sleep is important!
- They have Faith. They have friends. They combine the two regularly.
- They accept life’s tragedies. They expect them. They cry. They move on. They live. They enjoy the memories. Life is for the living.
- They make the most of each day. None of us knows when it will be our last. So enjoy it. Put on a purple hat and a red dress. Don’t be so serious. Enjoy!
- They face their problems head on. It’s not going to take care of itself. Que sera sera!! Whatever will be, will be. You can read the rest of the lyrics HERE. It’s true. There’s so little we truly have control over; we do have choices though.
At our outpatient facility, in our department alone, we perform anywhere between 40 and 60 cases daily. Roughly every ten minutes (we have two scan rooms). It’s a busy day. Unfortunately, it leaves us little time to actually talk with our patients…it’s more of a cattle call some days. On the occasions we DO have time to chat, those conversations are a blessing. We have WWII vets who share their pictures of youthful soldiers and uniforms filled with medals (Presidential, Purple heart, etc), stories of battles fought, friends lost, injuries and healing and a life lived. We have patients with second homes in Kentucky who regularly attended the Kentucky Derby. Patients who sang with Frank Sinatra and the boys (OK, not all the stories can be verified, however, this 90-something’s voice is AH-MAZING!!!). Patients who travel back and forth to their native countries and will give you the blow-by-blow on their travel deals and the wonderful food and adventures they enjoyed. They share the stories of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren’s weddings, babies, deaths, cancer.
And so for the other money maker…if I had a nickel…..for the countless times EACH DAY we hear, “Don’t get old”….my standard answer…”Well, there’s only one option.”….it’s inevitable. May I take with me the gems of the older generation and make them my own. Love. Live well. Laugh often. We only get one go around, so let us make the most of each day, regardless of what it brings.
Here’s the rest of the crew: only one week left of daily May blogging!!