When we are children, our “buffers” are our parents, siblings, grandparents and aunts and uncles. We feel secure in the knowledge that we are loved and protected. We know that we belong to a family and that we can count on all those wonderful people who are in our lives.
Then we grow older, and go out into the world on our own. But we still have family members and friends. We grow older still, and lose our “protectors” over the years. All of a sudden, we find ourselves at wakes and funerals. We realize that we are truly on our own, and, if we are lucky, our families have prepared us for this.
Of course, it doesn’t make it any easier to lose a loved one. But life does go on. When we become the “elders,” we realize that we have choices; we can be well-versed in kindness, empathy, humor, and can now be both strength and comfort our young people. Even if we are not thrilled to be older, it’s a gift and a privilege to listen to and help our young ones go through their trials and tribulations, their good and their bad times.
Our life experiences can do much to help or at least comfort those who are coming up behind us. We now are the “parent birds” who urge their young out of the nest. We can assure them that they can do it, and, hopefully; see them through.
There is nothing wrong with being an elder; in fact, it’s a wonderful time. We have retired from work, and use our time as we please. We can finally take time for ourselves and enjoy the life we have and the lives all around us. At this time of our lives, we realize that the bothersome and petty little things that used to aggravate us are nothing at all, just minor annoyances. We may have lost our “looks” and have gained or lost weight; but we have learned to live comfortably in our own skin.
As elders, we have learned what matters and what doesn’t matter. We have a choice to be all we can be. We can now look in the mirror and laugh at wrinkles, hair loss, more or less weight; as elders we realize that the petty things just don’t matter. What does matter is how we live the “elder life” and how we treat other people. Most of all, we finally can see ourselves for who we really are: well lived, well loved, well meaning and well met against the tides of life.