As an older adult, I often lament at how invisible I am. I go to the grocery store and the deli clerk not only doesn’t see me, he seems to be put out that I should ask for something as inane as a half-pound of ham. I go to the doctor’s office and the clerk seems to wonder why I bother coming. The subtext is, you’re going to die anyway, why waste our precious doctor’s time. I’m in line at the checkout stand and the clerk has an amazing conversation with the trim young man ahead of me but when it comes to my turn she barely says hello. Each example is not always true, but there have been times and these times make me feel invisible.
When I was younger I got lots of attention. Men would whistle and smile and whisper disgusting come-ons, which I am glad I don’t get any longer, but there is something about those inappropriate and unwanted advances from men that I miss. It is something as simple as me knowing I was seen.
I work with older, aging adults. Most of them are in the 90’s. What is so amazing is just how great they are, how alive they are, how much of them is still there and going strong and in spite of their aches and pains and physical challenges, they keep going on. Two of my clients started painting in their 90’s and they are both terrific!
As I work with older adults I am often reminded of the John Prine song Hello in There. One of the lyrics is: Old people just grow lonesome waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello”.
I’m still here. Yes, my face is wrinkly and I have a sagging chicken neck and I have “barnacles” on my skin and a muffin top around my waist, but I am still here. I am still alive and vital and feel every bit of my value, in spite of my age, because of my age.
One thing that holds true for me as I age is that I feel wiser than I ever have. I have accomplished many things and have experienced many things and I am able to put things together in a way that I never could as a younger person. I am challenged. It is my experience that my gray-ness is perceived as feebleness and dullness and worthy of being ignored.
The one thing I know for sure is that God, Spirit, Higher Power, Allah, Buddha, whomever one names as their spiritual guide, presence, creator, that higher being does not care one bit about what I look like. Spirit doesn’t care that I can’t sing any more. Doesn’t care that I can’t dance any more or run or even bend over some days which can be challenging to my hips and knees. Spirit doesn’t care about any of the ego-driven stuff that I or society subscribes to. The only thing that matters, in my humble opinion, is that I recognize the Power of the One Life in me and as me and that I am grateful for that and honor it. That’s it.
To honor the gifts of Spirit in me I write. I squirrel away in my little office/closet in my house. It is a perfect set-up for me and something that is newly found in my tiny home, creating a safe haven for me and my writing. See, I’m not dead yet. I keep on keeping on and do the next right thing for me and the next and the next. And though I am wrinkly and wizened, that small voice inside my heart and my gut says, “You go girl.”