My Baby Is 6 Months Old And Not Rolling Over Afraid to Be Old

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Afraid to Be Old

When people retire and move away to warm climates and wonderful scenery, they have forgotten that old age requires a lot of supporting characters.

It’s okay to go and have fun for a few years. Just don’t think you’ve adequately planned for retirement that way. Here’s the thing — if you haven’t accepted that you’re going to get old, you’re already in serious trouble.

Yes, meeting friends just like you and living life like an old frat group – that’s just awesome. But when something health happens to you, people in retirement often don’t want to be reminded of the fragility of life.

No, you need a whole collection of different types of people. All ages, all backgrounds. Let me see, yes, now I remember – it’s called town, town, city.

When people are afraid of being old, they act in a superstitious way that says, don’t do anything “old”. So, don’t put grab bars around your bathroom, just in case. Don’t worry about living up a 50-step stone staircase to your house. Walk everywhere, eat carefully, think positive thoughts.

Yeah, sure, that’s all good. But, my friends, there is life. And, as John Lennon said, life is what happens when you make other plans. Let me give you a few examples.

Cedric-the-artist was a grumpy old gentleman who walked everywhere and lived in a hilly town, up a hundred stone steps. The walking and the steps kept his legs very tight. However, he developed diabetes, did not watch his diet and fell down his steps in a painful moment, moving from the front gate to the bottom. He could never stay at home after that and his general unhappiness prevented friendships from developing around him.

Bob and Beth were a beautiful tennis couple in the late 60’s. They healthily joined my caregiver support group, month after month, often in their tennis whites, glowing with exercise. I once asked them if they were babysitters and they cheerfully said, “Oh no, we’re just doing our homework.”

Very clever, I thought. When I asked where their families lived, they said in Maryland and Florida. And then they added something a little cooler.

“We like living here in Arizona because that way our kids won’t see us grow old.”

A few months after this, I had a phone call late at night. A distressed woman was telling me that her husband had had a stroke. After some confusion, I realized this was Beth. Bob was knocked down by a serious blow. We talked more and a few other things came up. They had never married and Beth was sending Bob back to his children in Maryland. She was moving to Florida.

“Oh no,” she said, “I may not be able to look after him.” She didn’t want to move near him at all. She was horrified by what happened to him.

If getting old and something happening wasn’t filled with terror for her, it might have been a story with a better outcome for both of them. But not counting on getting old, with life not happening while you make other plans – that seems to rip the heart out of it all possibilities.

I love it when old people can grow up as well as grow old. I love it when they say, “You know, sometimes things happen and you just have to get on with it.”

That to me is the true wisdom of old age.

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