Whenever I've visited my father in hospital over the last few days someone always asks, "Is that your father?"
Personally, I like to take the question on notice, until I know why they are asking.
Just in case he has done something ......err...questionable.
I know that if he is feeling anywhere near well he is likely to play practical jokes on the medical staff. He describes it as ‘getting his own back’.
He also likes a chat. Whenever. With Whomever.
Today, I was listening to some interesting conversations between my father and three other seniors all in their late 70s/early 80s. You can tell that they love good listeners simply because they all love to talk. I guess they’ve had a lot of time to figure out exactly what they want to say so it’s only fair they get to say it as often as they like.
The propensity of the elderly for telling stories about "the good old days" is frustrating for some but I think its a natural and normal part of growing and being older. It’s just the universal process of a life in review. Besides, it's these authentic stories that can help us gain perspective and a sense of continuity through this shared collective memory. It's indeed a shame that more older people aren’t blogging and firing their stories into the universe for eternity.
Things must have changed a great deal over the last 60 years for these guys. Listening to them today made me wonder what our future nursing homes will be like for today's teenagers.
I expect things will be far more revolutionary and innovative with many more gadgets at their disposal.
The seniors of the future probably won’t be talking to each other much because they will be obsessively tweeting and texting; naturally about the good old days. Hearing aids will be replaced by ear phones and they will still be listening, at full volume, to the music of their teens. Many will be disturbed that their many hundreds of Facebook friends are disappearing one by one.
There won’t be any dentures to soak but lots of nose, belly and nipple rings to disinfect instead. It will be hard to estimate exact ages because new and improved body parts, like breasts, noses, hips and hair, will have been added over various decades. There mightn't be too many smiles to share either because after 30 years of botox injections they may have forgotten how. And while every tattooed image will tell a story, gravity will mean that it may not be quite the same story it once was.
And you probably won't find old guys called Des, Fred, Douglas and Lester but more likely Ethan, Skylar, Cooper and Riley.
It might be a future that we cannot possibly imagine but I bet that the seniors of the future will still be talking about 'the good old days'. And their kids and grandkids will be the ones raising a few eyebrows and shaking their heads.
It made me think though. We need to make sure we are all making some 'good old days' for ourselves and those we love every day, no matter what stage of the journey we are on. Because telling our own stories is the most authentic gift we can give each other.
Note: This is a shout out for Henry (SoulMerlin in blogspeak). Thanks for your advice on the ‘butt exercise' you left me on one of my posts. I tried to leave my back heel on the ground a little longer when walking around the hospital today (its big...really big..the hospital I mean, not my butt). However, I got stopped by a nurse asking me if my legs were ok as I was dragging my feet and it looked odd. When I tried to explain that Soul Merlin left a comment on my blog telling me how to have a great butt by flexing my glutes, she looked at me quizzically in that she is f'ing bonkers kind of way. Thanks Henry but if you wouldn’t mind attaching a video example of your feet next time, I would appreciate it. I am kind of a visual learner which every purchase of IKEA has repeatedly confirmed. Written instructions do not work for me. Perhaps I will look into tattoos instead.
And THANK YOU Rocksnowhite!!!!
Image: At 71, Mrs. Isobel Varley was the first senior citizen in the world to ink her whole body (yes, whole body). She got her first tattoo at 49. Its never too late to start, see?