“Don’t Look at Me That Way!”

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“DON’;;T LOOK AT ME THAT WAY!”

            Desperately fumbling in my purse for my house key, I suddenly felt the usual critical impatience of a son, who had inherited his father’;;s organized genes, change to the patience of  a son sadly watching a parent’;;s last disintegration! “It’;;s okay, Mom,” he soothed in a voice for the dying.  “Just take it easy, and I’;;ll find it for you!”

     And then I knew that he’;;d seen it too — the WARNING!  “Watch your parents as they enter old age.  Be ready to recognize all the symptoms that the years will hold.”  For one shocking moment, I also felt doubt and fear of the days that might lie ahead.  Perhaps if my fingers had not continued to identify lifesavers, lipstick, and hand lotion, my panic would have lasted longer, but with the practice of years of fumbling, I also, at that moment, found my keys!

            Later, after assuring myself that I had sought “Purses that organize” all the days of my adult life, I reflected on what was happening in society today to those of us that have coped with childhood, teenage years, adulthood, parenthood, menopause, and now wrestle with the golden years or more bluntly, “old age.”  Modern science has changed many things, and the medical world has given us many more years to average for a lifetime.

    But several things have NOT changed.  Each new age in life brings apprehension and characteristic behaviors, and entering adolescence isn’t the only time one needs new assurances of acceptance. Each new age also brings the risk of the LABEL which can determine responses of society around us.  Ask the teenager, the single parent, the physically impaired individual, the widower, the senior citizen. The frightening thing is that, often, if we look with expectations at our behaviors, we find that for which we search.

            For many of the right reasons, society is looking and waiting for the older years to bring disease and deterioration, with disintegration of skills,  in order that programs may be ready to catch us as we fall, and that’;;s commendable!  But if we wait only for the toddler to fall in his new world, if we stalk the teenager to control his rebellion ; if we’;;re ready to cry “abuse” at the parent who finally spanks once in frustration; we miss the wonder and excitement of new discoveries and the quiet moments of triumph and love.  The LABEL has too great a price as it brands the merchandise!

           It is a fact that the first generation is often no longer indispensable in maintaining the family business, and the parent is no longer an integral part of the evening table of their grown children.  While the great world of retirement is a recreational heaven,  and this new age brings a welcome freedom of responsibility,  there is a sudden inner fight to feel needed, to still feel the surge of accomplishment, and to fight the LABEL! 

        Do I want my son waiting and watching?  Do I want the driver next to me to want me off the road because my hair is gray?  Do I want to feel panic if someday I forget and put my house key in my pocket instead of my purse as I dash out the door?  Perhaps society has not addressed this issue enough!  There is no question that the toddler needs to be protected from the stairs, a hot burner, a mighty wave of ocean, but he also needs confidence to experiment, enjoy, and explore this exciting new world.  We must give him both, but we must also recognize that EACH age has its new horizons to be conquered.  There are still things that hurt, but the world is still exciting, and living is still a great experience.. 

          Meanwhile, how can I meet these new challenges?   I guess for now, I can still bake cookies for everybody.  Tomorrow I can hunt for a sale on a new “Purse with a Place for Everything!”, including keys, and maybe…. “Hey, you never know!”       

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