Will you still love me when I'm sixty four?
Not long ago a friend of mine and I went to a local senior citizens center for a crafts class. As it turned out it was more of a needlework circle, and as my friend doesn't knit, or crochet or tat, we ended up playing a game of scrabble.
What struck me most was the vibrant personalities of the men and women at the center -- one was clearly bold and outspoken. Her hair was impeccably styled, and she wore a bright sweater. She had an stately manner, sitting tall as she flipped through the pattern books. You could tell she approached life with a can-do attitude, and that she had an opinion on everything.
Another was quiet, almost mousy, but she was hard at work, her hands deftly weaving the threads as she tatted doilies. She had several finished ones with her, and when my friend asked, "Do you sell them?" She answered, "Oh, no. They're for love gifts." You could tell she was a loyal friend, and a sweet, generous soul.
So often old people are thought of as decrepit, boring, doing nothing, and interested in little beyond their own illnesses. Yes, I overheard some talk about doctor's visits that afternoon, but most of it focused on other things -- family, friends, projects.
I wish more people visited the senior center -- and not just old people. It would help us remember old people are just people who've lived a bit longer than the rest of us, just as unique and as interesting, if not more so for having had more experiences, than we are.
When I was a girl, my scout trip paid regular visits to a nursing home, and that was good. I grew to be comfortable around people who needed help in their daily life. But it was a skewed view of what it means to grow old. And it's a view that by and large permeates popular culture. Yes, we need to address the issues that can confront us as we age, but we also need to be aware of the joys of being an older person as well.