A Letter to My Friend Linda

Linda and I were talking about her ensuing landmark birthday, and she said, “Connie, this birthday scares me!” She shared that she had never really been bothered by milestone birthdays, but this one was different. Her fear was palpable, and I quickly decided to give her a hug and not flippantly say something that would not satisfy either of us. My career in senior living and hospice has given me the unique and enriching opportunity to be around thousands of Elders. Consequently, I’m an expert as an observer, although I am facing the same landmark birthdays. I believe the fear of death and the fear of aging are not the same. Our western culture is not friendly to the prospect of growing old.

Final Lessons From the Fall

The lessons from my fall and the resulting handicap continue to teach me lessons. Probably the most profound realization is the way strangers look or don’t look at you when riding in a wheelchair. You get a navel-level view of the world, and as you glance up at the passing individuals it invites an interaction by default. Some turn away and ignore you, some frown or grimace, others smile kindly with a knowing look. Going forward, I promise I will smile at every person I see in a wheelchair! How true this must be for older people. Our culture is not kind to Elders. They become invisible or even degraded. In other cultures, Elders gain importance as they grow older. Family members will bow to

More Lessons From the Fall (#3)

The fall created a deep sense of vulnerability. Most of us are not fond of feeling helpless. Laying head down on concrete with my legs still on the stairs, I was temporarily frozen. Everyone raced over to help and all I could say is, “Don’t touch me.” Normally I would be embarrassed and check to see who witnessed my clumsiness, but this pain was something I had not experienced. From the moment the first responders arrived until this day, I am on the receiving end. Giving help is so much easier than receiving. Asking for help is admitting your weakness and vulnerability. Those around me have been so kind and caring, and these are true gifts. But it is a choice to receive those gifts graciousl

Another Lesson From the Fall

Lesson #2!...In my last article I shared about a recent incident that earned me a ride in an ambulance. During that ride and in the ER, I heard the following statement several times: “Elderly woman has fallen down a flight of stairs.” I asked myself, “Is that me? Surely, they are talking about someone else!” I never think of myself as "elderly!" You read headlines in the paper about an elderly person being the driver of a car involved in an accident. Why don’t they ever say a forty-year-old was the driver? The adjective "elderly" is full of implications. That day my name got modified by an adjective that, according to Webster, means old, frail, and with diminished abilities. But that is n

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