I saw you on the street today. At least I thought it was you.
Seems you’d just been to the pharmacy and had your walker cane in your right hand. With the other hand you had a suitcase in tow, atop of which rested your purchases in a plastic bag.
You really struggled to keep walking onward.
I wondered about your home — was anyone waiting there for you? Or are you still living alone?
Have you solved the riddle of relationships, or do they still confound you?
I’m guessing you’re at least 75 years old, so that means you’ve got 20 years on me. Hopefully your memory is as sharp as ever. But if it isn’t, there are always those diaries and journals you’ve kept most of your life, right?
Your maternal grandfather kept a log of his day’s events. He lived to 95, so you have a shot at 20 more years. Your paternal grandfather lived until 82. The women in your family? Not so lucky. Barely cracked their 70s.
It’s now February 2019.
Just so you’re up-to-speed, the past ten years have been the worst patch of your entire life. I’d like to say you got through them swimmingly, but not so.
Both your parents died during that time, you ended a love relationship, and your career atrophied.
So, I guess that probably qualifies as Epic Failure.
However, I’m going to assume that the choices you made when you were my age turned out for the best. You had one hell of a history to surmount to get to where you are now.
Let’s tackle that living situation first, because I just gotta say this…
Living alone sucks.
You did it for most of your life, except for those early college years. As soon as you got a full-time job, and began your career in 1985, you were always yanking at the Family Project chain, hoping to move away from your parents and into a place of your own.
But an adjustment always came with that choice. Living alone, while freeing, involved loneliness and isolation. I really hope you’re not carrying those things into your “twilight years.” You deserve to enjoy your solitude, but not endure the pain of loneliness. You deserve to share your life with another caring person.
Where I’m writing to you from — right now — has been the grindstone that nearly wore you down to nothing. You were in a place from which you needed to escape, like back in 2005. It was one of your late father’s last wishes that you quit renting and buy some real estate. But you didn’t want to own a house, and knew you wanted to stay in the city.
That, I think, was the smart part of your decision. The stupid part was the choice you then made. But that’s all history.
Hopefully you’ve found family again.
A new tribe.
A strong home base and some sort of Creativity Command Central. A playground for your mind, with lots of lovely playmates.
You deserve that, old man. You deserve to have that buzzing hive where you can entertain family and friends. Where you can make art or play music and always be yourself, unconstrained.
You know, you’ve always been a great weatherman. You could tell when the environment wasn’t right, when storms were coming and you needed to get to higher ground. Your Pop sensed that in you. He was proud that you could do that. In some ways he worried about you, but not as much if he didn’t think you had that kind of intuition. After a while your mother started to worry more about you because she knew you both shared a mental illness. It was okay for her to be concerned.
But worry ate away at her like an acid, until only her bones were left.
Then even those crumbled. Depression does that to humans.
You see, old man, I had a vision about your future.
This is weird, because I know you don’t like talking about the future — it’s a topic not meant for discussion.
But bear with me here.
I see you at home with a lovely partner. She’s, actually, not at all similar to you, which surprises you both daily. If I could describe her one characteristic, she’s like a pit bull. She will fight you or others over what she believes in. You’re somewhat exasperated by this, but you realize she’s mostly right. And she eloquently expresses her opinions, which delights you endlessly. Also, she won’t let you wimp out or do less than your best. That tests your mettle, too.
You and your partner live in a community of other families and couples, so it’s very … communal. In this place, you all happily share your skills, knowledge, and talents, and there’s a ton of laughter. But it’s not just all “seniors.” That’s the cool thing about this community.
There are younger people around and you’re mentoring them. And they’re teaching you new tricks. It’s an amazing experiment in reciprocal, cross-generational relationships. In a sense, you’re not aging, you’re improving.
Anyway, I hate to say goodbye, old friend, but I must.
Every day is something of a goodbye.
But you knew that, right?
So, as you hobble up the steps of your new place with your bag full of whatever pharmaceuticals have been unleashed upon your future world, dragging your suitcase and leaning on your walker cane, I just gotta ask you this …
Is she there waiting for you, worried if you would make it home okay?
And when you step through that door, will you tell her you’re grateful she’s in your life?