I recently had the pleasure to spend time with people some of us who are uninformed would call elderly.

After this visit I felt humbled and a bit invigorated by these vibrant, funny and inspiring people. Since I’m officially part of the senior citizen class now, it is a time one thinks about things differently. After this particular visit, it is apparent that I need to think about many things differently.

As with most things, whatever our age, attitude has a lot to do with the quality of our life. Some things are out of our control. Our genetic markers, where we were born, our family and our socioeconomic beginnings are all things we cannot control. 

Some are born to privilege; some to unimaginable poverty. Yet, we have seen example after example of rags to riches success stories, as well as stories of people who seemingly had everything but could not cope or survive. 

We all know people who whine about everything and can’t ever seem to be happy or satisfied no matter what good things may be in their lives. We all know people who struggle with health, family or financial issues and always have a smile and look at the world and their circumstances as a gift.

It’s this latter group I had the privilege to spend a bit of time with recently. I wanted to see a lady who entered my life when I was about 2 or 3 years of age. Our families were brought together by the military. Her husband and my dad were stationed at the same base and we lived across the street. 

A lifelong connection was formed that continued after the death of her husband and my parents. She thinks of herself as my second mom. That’s been a comforting feeling for me over the years. I haven’t had the opportunity – actually I had not made the opportunity – to see her for over 15 years. We live on opposite sides of the country.  But, I realized it was important for me to do what was necessary to see her again. 

It was well worth it on so many levels. She is now living in a facility that offers several levels of care. Fortunately she is still independent in so many ways. I met some wonderful and talented people, who treated me like family. 

I met a vibrant woman who is about to be 101 years old. She recently took a spin around the city in a motorcycle side-car. She said it was on her bucket list. She reads, does a crossword each morning and tries to learn something new each day. Her vibrancy and wit was humbling. She beat the pants off me and my friend playing Rummikub. She was thinking three moves ahead while I was still trying to organize my tiles.  

It was a great experience to be able to spend some time with people who have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Besides connecting with my friend, I was able to see firsthand the wisdom of our senior class, as well as appreciate how much they can still teach all of us.

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