My parents lived in a retirement community if Florida for about 25 years.
When they moved in they were in their early 70s and were the new kids down the block.
The Old Folks are Alright
When they bought their home the old folks were in their 80s and 90s. People who were WWII vets and who endured the Great Depression: The Greatest Generation.
These folks were in their sunset years. Many dealing with issues of old age but still enjoying life.
When there were social events at the club house these people would show up. The music was mostly Big Band and Swing music from the 40s along with country music probably through the 70s and 80s.
My parents grew up with that music and listened to that music on the radio, so that was fine.
For many years my parents went to most of the social events at the club house and visited with friends in the park.
My parents generation and the ones that came before them were joiners.
Before there was TV or the internet, people had to go out to socialize.
In the old days all of the civic clubs were much more popular than they are now. It’s hard to get people to even join the VFW these days.
When I was a kid my dad belonged to several sports leagues or clubs at work. My mother bowled and belonged to several organizations in town.
We are the Old Folks Now
Inevitably my parents became “the old folks” in the park..
About two years before my Dad died, I was visiting them and had to go to the club house to use the Wi-Fi.
As I sat in the card room I could hear people in The Hall setting up for a social event that evening.
By now my folks were in the mid 80s and had stopped attending most get-togethers at the club house. They didn’t have the energy and most of their friends had died.
As I sat there going through work email, I began to notice the music.
I was tapping my foot and humming along.
They were playing The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones!
That’s when I realized that my parents had become the old folks in the park. It really hit me that there had been a generational change in the park.
It is a 55+ community and younger people had discovered the park as a relatively inexpensive place to live. These people went to work every morning. Some of them were my age!
And the 70 year old folks living in the park were flower children! They were the same age as members of The Grateful Dead and The Stones.
They didn’t want to listen to Benny Goodman, they wanna rock! They grew up in the 50s and 60s.
One time I was out for a run around the park and I swear I could smell pot!
I had to laugh.
Old Age is a Relative Term
As I watched my parents move into their 80s and closer to 90 I saw the slow decline. Over time my siblings and I increasingly took care of things.
As technology became more prevalent in everyday life they managed to keep up with some things. But they were about as far from being digital natives as you could get. So we guided them as best we could.
As we became more involved in helping them I began to see their age as old. All of their frailties and health issues began to define old age to me.
But people who are 70 or 80 are also old, it’s just that most of them are more able than people in their late 80s. But they are less able than people in their 60s.
And when my parents were in their 70s they didn’t feel old even with their health issues. The people 5-10 years older were old or people who were dieing or dealing with major health issues were old.
Now the old folks are listening to rock and roll and smoking weed. Some of them served in Vietnam but they are not “The Greatest Generation”. They are the leading edge of the Baby Boomers.
Is 50 the new 30?
What ever age you are, the people 10-20 years older are old.
When I was 30, 50 seemed old but not OLD. Sixty seemed old.
Now that I am almost 58, sixty seems kind of young.
I definitely do not feel 30 anymore and it’s getting harder to convince my self that I am still young. I’m pretty comfortable with the reality that I am in the middle of middle-age. There’s no denying that!
As an old friend used to say “Facts is facts!”.
Having seen my parents age and die, I’ve come to realize that 10 years from now I will look back on a younger me. The me sitting here typing away right now.
No matter how old you are, in 10 years you will wish you could be that age again.
Think of the mistakes you could avoid and the things you could have done if you had only realized the older you wouldn’t be able to do them in the future.
Looking Through Time
So I have seen the end. Twice.
As my dad used to say, life is about taking a series of fall back positions. As you loose the ability to do something you do something else. Or you deal with your illness and the infirmnety that comes with it.
You just deal.
So I know that 10 years from now I may not be able to run marathons, or run at all. With that in mind I need to take better care of my self.
In 20 years I may have problems walking and going to Europe and seeing the sights may not be a possibility.
Over the years many of us add on the pounds like rings on a tree. They come with each year.
If I don’t adjust my diet and maintain my fitness, eventually I’ll look like most of the old men in America. Then I will really feel old.
Age comes to us effortlessly and the days pass by swiftly.
It is up to each of us to do our part to see that next day pass and make sure that as old folks, all of us are alright.
Live Well my Friends!