Aging.... Gracefully?

I was reading an article on line the other day and came across a paragraph that focused on 'Baby Boomers' (I hate that title), and it said that some of us were elderly. Curious, I looked up 'Elderly' to find out at what age one becomes elderly, and was shocked to find that I passed that milestone two years ago!  How could this be? My mind is still sharp, even if my eyes aren't. My wit is nimble, even if my body isn't. This just could not be true, I told myself. So, I searched several more times, and each time came back with the same result.... I'm elderly. I was stunned. Then, I started to think about aging, and what we have been led to believe we were going to be in for, as opposed to the truth. My conclusion is that we have been led down the garden path to smell the roses, and instead have become lost in the woods.

  We have been told all of our lives that we will grow old gracefully. Ha! Let me tell you, for most of us, there is nothing graceful about it. Instead, we stumble, hobble, and drag ourselves from doctor to doctor, from test to test in an endless circle. It's like going into a maze that has benches for resting, but no actual way out. Some of us take in more pills than food in a day. We are bombarded by commercials touting the latest wonder drug that may either help you, or kill you with the side effects. They tell you to inform your doctor if you have this or that condition. Well, if I have to tell my doctor what the hell is wrong with me, what is it, exactly that I am paying him for? Why in the hell would I take a pill that comes with the caveat that 'In some cases, side effects, including internal bleeding, stroke, and death have occurred'? Oh, yeah, give me some of that stuff! And the government wants to protect me from marijuana? Oh, boy. 
 Other commercials show happy people in their 60s and 70s playing golf, running and doing all kinds of very active things. Then, they try to sell you this med or that rub that will make your arthritis disappear! Right! I have arthritis in my hands, my back, my neck and my knees. I have two blown out rotator cuffs. No rub is making that go away, and I am not taking those pain killers. They just make me dopey, and I'm dopey enough already. 
 Listen, I'm not complaining about heading off into the sunset... we all do it. It is natures way of improving the world. I just needed to vent about the WAY that we head off. Doctors do the best that they can but, lets face it, they are still working in an inexact science. We don't call what they do a 'Practice' for nothing. I have the best doctors in the world, and my Primary Care Physician (Who the hell comes up with these ideas to change the names of what a person is or does?) is not only my doctor, but my friend of thirty years. It's just that the human existence is still a mystery to them as well.
  Medical problems is just the half of it. They didn't warn us that, at some point, our children start look at us like we've either lost our minds, or just don't know what we are talking about. You all know what I am talking about: The eye roll when they think that you are not looking. The glazed over look that comes over their faces when you start to tell about something from your past and they think that they've (a)heard it before, or (b)are not really interested in what you have to say. I remember doing this to my own father a few times, so I want to say now that I was callous and very wrong to do so. I'm sure that he knew what I was doing, and it hurt him. We seem to lose some respect as the years continue to speed on by. People look at us differently, and they treat us differently. 'Oh, don't pay any attention them, they're old and grouchy!' Yeah, well we are grouchy for a good reason. I try not to let the disrespect that I get from some color my opinion of all. For the most part, I get what I give, and that's a good thing.
  The last thing that I have to say is I hate the loss of dignity that comes with advanced age. I watched my aunts decline from smart, vibrant women to almost childlike people in a matter of a few years. The really sad part is that so many treated them like children.... not that they were mean to them... they weren't. It's just that they talked to them as one would talk to a child. It made me angry, at times. 
 When my Aunt Mary had to go into a nursing home for rehabilitation after getting stents place in her coronary arteries, the staff talked to her like she was a four year old. On one occasion, I brought her some homemade escarole and meatball soup. She didn't go to the dining room that day, and the floor supervisor came in and started berating her for not coming to lunch. I lost it and told her that I had brought her some food from home, and that she was not to talk like that to her ever again! This was an excellent nursing home and was top rated, but still, they treated her like a child. She was 91 at the time. I wish that she had a more peaceful last few years.
  Well, I think that I have gotten this out of my system for the time being. Growing old gracefully has certainly not been my experience, but life is seldom what we thought it would be. It's full of surprises, good and bad, but that's what makes it interesting. I will continue to do whatever my team of doctors tells me,  as one of my good friends has urged me to do. I just needed to get this off of my chest. I will, of course, write my opinions from time to time, for better or for worse. If I stir things up a little, so be it, as long as I can make what I write interesting, and make some people think about what I have to say.
 Life has been an adventure... unpleasant at times, but good, overall. I would not change even the bad times, because out of most of them came good. I leave you, as I always do, wishing Peace and Love for all. Thanks for listening.

John Zaffino March 1, 2014
Kent Lakes, NY


  1. I love reading what you have to say. I'm sure there's not one of us oldies but goodies that hasn't felt the same as you my friend.
    I just see old age as another experience life affords us to obtain a greater understanding of who we have been... how our compassion and love for others we have come into contact with throughout our life or lack thereof has touched and changed them in and of itself. How better for us to understand these things than to experience them first hand.
    If you're like me... your expectations have always colored what is to come with a much grander brush than what in reality it turned out to be. Not only our hopes of what will be but our fears of what the worst outcome might be. Never.... not once... has anything been as wonderful or as horendous as I had envisioned it to be.
    So... fear not... lol We have made it through a lot, are still here kicking and I would pretty much bet we will still continue for a long time to come. Suffering if we must... but they will not get rid of us that easily.
    There is an old SNL skit where they always said, "Hear me now and listen to me later".... that I'm afraid is what we did and what the younger ones (if they're lucky) will do. For some of us it takes a lot of time passing and a roof to cave in on our heads to finally listen to all the wisdom that has been shared with us through the years.
    You my friend are the catalyst for a lot of us so keep sharing your deep thoughts... they are appreciated by many.

    1. Thank you, my dear friend. You and I are of one mind on so many things. You set an example by approaching each day with grace and beauty. I am glad that we met on facebook and became friends. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement to this old man. Love and peace to you and your family. My northern light.. a beacon in the darkness.

  2. John, This is, by far, the most touching essay that I have read from your Back Pages yet. I thank you for putting into words what so few can articulate. Thank you for sharing. - Amy

    1. Thank you, Amy. This means so very much, coming from you.

  3. again you hit the nail on the head , but for me I don't go to doctors as I worked in pharmacy and saw what the md's where giving people and I really can't believe some where so over medicated

    1. Well, if I were a healthy man, I wouldn't go, either. But, being that I have so many damned things wrong with me, I have no choice. thanks for the encouragement, it's much appreciated. ;)


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