Last night the Crankee Yankee and I went out for an early dinner at our local seafood restaurant. It has sort of become a senior citizen place; there are usually more of us than younger people. Nearly every booth and table has a few canes or walkers near by. The waitstaff is always unfailing kind and patient, and go out of their way to make each diner feel welcome and appreciated.
After we ordered (baked sea scallops for me, and the “three fry” for the Crankee Yankee; shrimp, scallops and fish), we watched the folks around us. There was an older couple nearby, probably in their eighties. The man had tremors, and his legs and hands trembled constantly. His wife helped him when he needed it, but overall he managed quite well.
I had a sudden flash in my mind about him and his wife. I could almost see them as a young couple; him, strong and handsome, able to do anything from building a garage to diapering a baby. Her, lovely and capable; making delicious meals for her twin boys and baby girl; keeping their home tidy and neat, and letting her husband know each day how much she loved him. Who knows how long they have been together and what they have weathered together? Despite his trembling fingers, you could tell that he was still the love of her life.
These unexpected things are challenges for us all. We have no idea what will happen when we get older; we start off young and strong, and then the years fly by and we are older with infirmaties we could not have expected. Who could predict these things?
But still, still we are who we always have been, and nothing can take that away. In our hearts and minds, we are still young and vibrant; healthy and strong, our minds are sharp and our feet take us easily where we want to go. No infirmity or disease or circumstance can undermine who we are. Sure, it’s a royal pain to have health issues over which we have no control.
But that does not dictate who we are. I learned from the declines and eventual deaths of my parents that, as old and infirm as we become, the essential being inside is still vibrant and strong. When I saw my mother mere minutes after she died, her face was as beautiful and serene as always. When I watched my dad take his last breath, it was as though his lovely spirit halted its upward climb to smile back at me.
Health and age issues do not define us. The essential “us” always remains. I am sure that the couple I saw last night still see themselves as the young and vibrant beings they were on the day they married. Changes in age and life do not define who we are.