“I’m so scared of getting older. I’m only good at being young.” (John Mayer)
Last week I made a trip to Wal-mart to help my Mother with some too-heavy-for-her-to-carry cases of water. While the trip was an experience in itself, the real treat was when I was standing behind an elderly woman in the check-out line. My Mother, being the nice woman that she is, was eager to help the much-older woman with her groceries because she noticeably needed some extra hands to lift some items out of her cart (gravity was a bit more forgiving getting them in there). After a few exchanges it was revealed that the woman was 97 years old. Both my Mother and the woman working the register were taken aback. From what I perceived, they were shocked of her old age, that she was out and about at her age, and that she was still functioning on her own at her age (without the immediate help/aid from another). I didn’t want to really engage in the conversation. I just wanted to stand there to take in the experience and reactions.
My experience: I was more shocked over the reaction to this woman’s age and capabilities. It made me piece together and wonder what sort of world we are living in for a person living well into their 90′s without an obvious need for aid to be considered an amazement. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s incredible that this woman is 97, independent, and healthy. But in the same breath, why isn’t this feat-of-health more commonplace? Why is it assumed that with old age we will become withered, crippled, shriveled, wheel-chaired, hospitalized, and die?
I didn’t see a need to help her. In my eyes, she’s doing just fine with what got her to 97. Plus, she’s probably better-off than most of the people in Wal-mart that day who were at least half of her age, if not more.