For two years, I’ve been a volunteer driver for Duet, a non-profit organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that assists seniors in arranging for transportation to and from their doctor appointments.
I have met a lot of lovely ladies in their eighties (most of my passengers are older women – perhaps they’re best at asking for help – or maybe it’s true – woman outlive men) who are happy to share a bit about themselves as we head off to a nearby appointment. I’m always struck by their dignity and resolve to carry on when family and friends seem to have either moved away, died, or simply left them to their own devices. I think it takes courage to face life when you’re unsure how you’ll get to the doctor, or when you need to plan to go to the pharmacy or going grocery shopping. I marvel at their resilience and strength. Most have raised families, buried husbands, and even buried children, and still, they go on with determination and a loving spirit.
I’ve always thought I’d be a terrible older person. Crabby, demanding, and ridiculously impatient with myself and everyone around. To be honest, I wasn’t so great at being young either. Surely, being ill-tempered would be a part of my aging process. But as I view these wonderful and unique individuals, I see a sparkle as they embrace life and I find myself thinking – perhaps – I might make a delightful older man. Someone who attracts people with a twinkle in his eye. Someone who astounds strangers with his positive attitude.
And then I realize, it’s simply ageist to think getting older turns you into Ebeneezer Scrooge.
I could still have another good thirty years. I might end up alone, no family or friends around. It could happen. So, I’d better start practicing being kind and loving. I’ll definitely need those two skills when someone from Duet drives me to my doctor’s appointment. That, and patience as they circle the parking lot, as I often do, trying to find the closest spot to the front door.