Standing On A Chair

Telling it like I see it…

Rants from the Chair: On Perspective

I have a really hard time being around large groups of very old people.  This makes visits with my mother sometimes a little difficult.  In the large lobby area of her “old folk’s apartment home,” are gaggles of these entities in various pursuits:  slumped asleep in chairs; stooped over walkers while drooling in cups; creeping around in motorized wheelchairs while clutching at stuffed animals; staring in stunned silence. 

My mother doesn’t fit into any of these categories yet, thank God, but by the time I reach her apartment on the second floor, I’m pretty freaked out and ready to flee the confines of the addlebrained and the decrepit.

Except for those few saints among us, I think many of us feel the same way.  I ask myself how in the hell can anyone possibly find happiness and joy at this end-stage of life?  I always say, “Just somebody fucking shoot me, okay?”

But sometimes I’m forced to re-think things, because there are instances when I just get stuff totally wrong.  A recent conversation I had with one of my amazing girlfriends caused me to do just that:

“I have a friend who is young,” she told me.  “In her early 40’s.  And she asked me how I could possibly be content to be approaching 60 without a man, and not dating anyone.”

“Figures,” I said.  “When you’re in your forties, you’re at your horniest.”

“I know!” she agreed.  “Here we are, happy as clams to be on our own, independent, not dating and being okay with that!”

“And no longer completely motivated by horniness!” I shouted.  “Who would have ever thought that would happen?”

“And not only that,” she continued, “but remember when we were in our twenties, and thought life was over at 40??”

“Yes!” I said.  “And boy were we wrong on that one!  Even our fifties were pretty awesome!”

“You got that right, girlfriend!” we said almost in unison while high-fiving each other.

“But what about when we’re in our 90’s?” I asked her.  “And that’s entirely possible because people are freaking living so much longer these days.  I don’t want to go there, I tell you!”

My incredibly intelligent and interesting girlfriend then said, “We’ll feel differently about it then.”

Well D-U-H!  Hello! 

Hearing that concept articulated out loud was like getting slapped upside the head, with somebody saying, “Are you not paying attention, Jill?”

I feel so much better now.  It’s still hard to imagine being very old as a joyous thing, but at least now I don’t dread it quite so much.

I may have to reconsider that vow I made to increase my cigarette intake.

Now that’s perspective.


March 13, 2012 - Posted by | Aging | , , , , , , ,


  1. Jill, that’s EXACTLY after 11 years in the field of aging and geriatrics I totally recommend Living Wills!!! Because the reality for all of us is that once you “cross that line” the survival instinct kicks in and the desire for “quality of life” is completely replaced by the need for “quantity of life!” Remember… just 3 weeks ago my mother had pretty much determined it was her last night, but when she (unexpectedly) woke up the next morning and couldn’t breathe comfortably, by damn, THEN she wanted it fixed!!! HAHAHAHA… Perspective… It’s all in your perspective… I have to say, I’m relieved we made it through another “almost.”

    Comment by Peggy | March 13, 2012 | Reply

    • Ugh, Peggy. So that’s what happens? We end up preferring quantity over quality? The need to survive trumps everything else? Sigh. Maybe along with that, the delusion of happiness kicks in? Still hopeful. And you’re so right. Everyone in my family has a living will. So appreciate your comment!

      Comment by standingonachair | March 13, 2012 | Reply

  2. Maybe at 90 we’ll still be able to meet half way for lunch!

    Comment by Linda Wines Stokes | March 13, 2012 | Reply

  3. I would do anything to avoid my mother’s destiny of dying in a nursing home bed after two years of dementia sucking up every bit of inheritance from her children and for what? I agree with the “just shoot me” plan of going out. But can’t I have just one more affair first?

    Comment by geri wright | March 13, 2012 | Reply

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