Interesting ride in the elevator this morning. As the doors closed, I went to push the UP button, but the four year-old next to me beat me to it, hitting the DOWN one instead. We headed down. “DADDY!” she shrieked, “Why aren’t we going UP???” “Because you pushed the DOWN button,” he said with a grimace of embarrassment.
Ah, indeed, one cannot go UP in life, if one keeps pushing the DOWN button and we do it all the time. Don’t believe me? Why do women lie about their age? They do not want to face their actual years of living. Why? What makes 30 more special than 37? Hopefully those 7 years were well-lived and they are proud of them. Why not own them? I knew a woman once who told me she had two children. When I later learned that she actually had three,( a mentally ill son who had been institutionalized for many years), she said he, ‘didn’t count.’
Wow. Everything counts. Every ONE counts. It all adds up to the beautiful, complex, crazy, wonderful puzzle that becomes our lives. Sure some are messy, others splendid, but every HOUR of them are OURS. Claim them. Embrace them. Flaunt them. But whatever you do, don’t hide them or you will just go down. Down, until you end up in the basement with all those people who declare that “50 is the new 40.”
What? 50 is not the ‘new 40.’ It is actually 10 years more beautiful than 40 could ever hope to be. It has more gray hair, more lines, more experience, more disappointments and joys, and more stories to tell. Which brings me to why I write this blog in the first place: counseling older people.
Why aren’t they our FIRST priority? They are living legacies and their time with us is short. Why was Taylor Swift on the cover of Vanity Fair this month instead of Stevie Wonder? She is awesome and I love her music but his work has affected the world longer than she has even been alive. And while we’re at it, why are feisty fifty year-olds advertising erectile dysfunction drugs? Seriously, get a real, 75 year-old guy who can barely click the TV remote and put some believability back in advertisement. When THAT happens, I’ll know America has its’ head on straight. Till then, I’ll keep writing.
Helen Hudson is a counselor and 20 year member of the ACA. She is also the author of "Kissing Tomatoes," and speaks around the country on the importance of caring for the elderly, particularly those with Alzheimer's, with compassion.