This wannabe ditty is a sequel to an article I wrote in March of my 60th year of life and the dread I felt therein. The link to that article should you feel yourself wanting for it is: Oh No, I’ve Hit The Big 60!
Twelve months forward from back then is a reflection in the present or reflecting on what is it that I am feeling now as we enter the month commonly known as November aka CHESVAN. Never to be forgotten is November 6, 1999 (27 Chesvan 5760) when Leib Dovid Elveson became a Bar Mitzvah! For the curiosity seekers out there this article is being written on November 6, 2017, which corresponds to 17 CHESVAN 5778. The unfamiliar words you will come across in this article are either Yiddish Words or Hebrew Words. Old people like me love to reminisce about the past.
I am now but a spec on a giant empty white wall. A spider once scaled this wall all the way to the top. The letters of the words that will be engraved on my tombstone that I may not live to oversee are out there waiting for me. This and more grows closer to fruition as each day of each year that passes me by signifying the day of my passing may not be that far away. In five months I will graduate to 62 years after my birth. Yes, I will have grown older…..again!
What will be left of my life as my vision begins to dim while faces once so familiar are almost strangers to me now? I fight now with all the strength I can muster to hold onto those things that I hold so dear to the very essence of my being. As my body continues to break down leaving me to shuffle around sitting in my bright red walker that was made to “fit me.” Was it not only a few scant years back that these crippling fears had not yet invaded my mind? What I used to be is all but a blur to me now.
A sudden twist to the left elicits screeches and screams from strained vocal chords that are no longer receiving steady funding from my mildly fluid-filled lungs. My turn to the right evokes the same sad scenario that my left turn had produced. A fleeting moment of consideration for a slow-footed ride in my red walker to the supermarket to pick-up some nosherei (snacks) is immediately dismissed as an idea devoid of any substance to it.
Oy Ve (oh woe) I am in the way again! Vey iz mir (oh woe is me)! My taking to tan under the sun results in a resounding command ordering me to stay out of the sun! The keys to my car that I bought with my hard earned pension money are now in protective custody. Hidden from me along with being locked away in a place they would never think I could find them even if it were another day from my younger years that I had once actually lived in while I was still alive in my mind. My place has no place as there is no place where I belong anymore. Whatever I say, whatever I do is no good. The whisper grows louder in my mind’s ear telling me I am no good for anyone anymore. This is the emes (truth) of what my life has become as I have aged again.
Somebody will inevitably ask a relative or suggest to whomever that a Nursing Home is what is best for me. Imagine strapped to a wheelchair all day in a large unkempt room alongside others who are waiting for visitors who will never come or for the moment to come when it is time to plotz (collapse). Nursing Homes are for people that cannot be cared for at home as it is too burdensome for their children that they brought into this world and nurtured them. This is not a hospital or rehabilitation facility but it is a place you are brought to so you can die out of view of those who you thought loved you.
So many of the aged are banished to these havens of death where all they do is sit, moan, and stare blankly at the ceiling while their children live a life of luxury off their parent’s money. If I or if they are lucky enough the grandchildren will be schlepped (dragged) to us for a visit so they can relentlessly squirm in pre-determined increments of time. As I gaze intensely into the eyes of my son I am ashamedly afraid to ask him what will become of me as I continue to age. Will he join the throngs of those children who grew up and threw their parents away into the garbage or put them on the curb to be picked up by the garbage truck known as the ambulette?
To age is akin to being convicted of a crime. The heinous crime I have committed is being aged in a younger person’s world. In this case, the judge and the jury are usually your children or other relatives you are used to thinking you knew. No lawyer will be put on retainer to defend me against these charges or perhaps strike a deal with my accusers that will allow you to plea bargain for a greater amount of time to live in the comfort of my home. In exchange, I will agree not to suck on the gums of my toothless mouth at the dinner table. I will also refrain from making any other noises that are bothersome to you as they remind you that you too will be as I am now.
Tell me why please tell me that when I told you to act your age you retorted by telling me to act my age but when I now do as you demand of me to do your level of dissatisfaction that borders on disdain for your dear father grow in intensity? In other words, it was okay at your age to not act your age but if I act in a manner that for a fleeting moment is contradictory to the way a person of my age should act you are overcome with anger. Perhaps you feel I am embarrassing you in front of your friends. Your friends if I may be so bold as to point out treat their father with love and reverence. He is not interference in their life. If anything he is an integral part of their lives they would not want to live without.
So let me ask you my dear Joel had you known back then what it would be like for you now what would you have done? Perhaps if I had taken up with a different partner who came from a world such as the one I myself had lived in would Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken still hold a similar meaning that it does for me now? I wonder the same for those people who too are now living in their “golden years.” The golden years are metaphorically speaking green apples that are ripe with worms. To put it succinctly the golden years are not as golden as you were naively led to think. Are you still living or beginning to live in a fantasy world whereupon you still think you could put on your white golf shoes that look like oversized baby shoes, your Arnold Palmer golf shirt and schlepp (drag) your gray golf bag with your drivers and putters to the country club you never joined with its lush green freshly mowed lawn and hit one into the imaginary fairway? We both know that is not going to happen!
My feelings about the “aging process” are not hidden. Quite on the contrary, I wear them on my sleeve for all to see. I want it to be entrenched in the minds of my family that I am entitled to feel as I do even if you are uncomfortable with it. As you may have fallen “out of love” with me I still expect you to respect me and my wishes. Respect is the least you can give although I feel I am still no less entitled to your love than I ever was. What we unselfishly give to our children in terms of love, etc. we should be shown in return. There is an intrinsic value to our contributions to your life. That value should not diminish over time.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I still have dreams. My dreams are of days gone by that I cheated myself of precious moments in exchange for the mighty dollar. While my heart yearns to compete to get a deal done. I dream of those times we spent together or fought each other tooth and nail as neither of us would ever admit to being wrong. The raging spirit inside of me tells me to fight on. Fight for the right to live whatever is left of my life in dignity backed up by the love you should have never let go of.
I never could accept anything as just being so even if it was bashert (meant to be). While the horrors stories or tear-jerking moments described above have yet not hit me but soon enough they will. My life has been a concoction of twists, turns, highs, lows, failures, and successes. I can still stamp and stomp minus some spunk and spark yet I know all that wasted energy could be put to better use for a purpose not as yet determined. An aged battle-tested soldier is what I feel I am. Conversely, I am jaded with an increased need for sleep.
Perhaps I am or perhaps I am not growing old (older) gracefully as society would dictate I do. Surrender I shalt eventually do as time ultimately wins all battles. Time is my biggest adversary right now simply because that is how the world was planned. In spirit, I was in many places at key moments in history. I will hope my spirit will continue on long after I am laying in my final repose. My fear is that this will occur this year but then again maybe not. My not quite graying hair with nary a wrinkle to be found on my person gives rise to some hope although there is still trepidation. The hair on my head still retains its sandy brown color.
Time has come to end yet another philosophical expedition. My pillow beckons me to lay my head upon it. Unbeknownst to me is the answer to the question will I arise tomorrow morning and be able to recite the Modeh Ani Prayer which is the bedrock of the Jewish day.