As preparation for writing this sequel, I reread the original essay carefully. Thoughts crowded into my mind. What is the best way of presenting my stance? Can I even tackle this challenge?
But I am at least qualified to offer the memories accumulated from my own long lifetime. Besides that, my residence is a senior citizens’ home, an interesting launching pad for this essay. This effort is aimed at my generation in the hope that my viewpoint will aid them.
As these thoughts swirl around, I think back on my own life. My mind slips back thirty years. A sudden recession had struck the oil business. Imperial Oil, the company my husband Sheldon worked for, needed to cut costs. They started by offering their older employees early retirement. A common move, but Imperial did it with humanity and caring. The package offered was generous, and the program that accompanied it was amazing. Every retiree and his or her spouse was invited to attend a retirement information class. This course took several days to complete, and covered more aspects than most of us had ever considered. Advice about financial matters was expected. We got that, but also excellent information on the mental, physical, and social adjustments that accompanied retirement.
Like most of us in that class, Sheldon and I were from the 1920s. We had experienced the tough years of depression, drought and social upheaval. It marked us for life – we were inclined to save seriously, be thrifty, and plan for our old age. We considered ourselves ready for the second half of our lives. As the years passed, though, Sheldon and I began to look at things differently. We came to realize that our greatest gain from the Imperial retirement course was our exposure to the other changes that retirement would bring.
Change – that inevitable factor of life! There it is again. Accepting it is the lesson I have had to learn over and over again. One part of me always wants to rebel, to deny what is happening. My more reasonable part reminds me that change is not likely to be stopped. How I handle it is my only live option. Growing old makes change harder, but I still have to deal with it. How? For me, there are three steps in the process:
Recognize the truth,
Accept the reality,
Decide what real options exist.
Amazing is it not? I have lived most of my allotted years. Changes, hard or good, are as natural as breathing. The possible responses stay the same. Why am I such a slow learner? Well, I am old and tired. It becomes harder and harder to adjust to yet one more change, be it small or major. Enough of change! I want to stick to what is familiar.
How do I move beyond my lethargy and head-in-the-sand reactions?
The answer may be as easy as the problem is difficult. I take a few deep breaths, and admit to myself that I cannot alter the course of a world in turmoil. Tackling that task falls to others, far younger than I. What can I do? I can focus on making the most of every day. Now, living in my last years, I must determine what I need to make me fulfilled and happy. Work that out and then pursue it with as much vigour as I can muster.
Will I need support and help? Of course! I turn first to the nearest and best – loving family. Then I take advantage of the excellent programs in my retirement home and local community centres. I try not to forget the important role that professional counselors provide. Taking advantage of experienced help is always advisable. I try to be aware and proactive, then live every day to the full. The world will be a little better off for the joy I experience, and share.
My next effort is to explore more ways to familiarize people, of all ages, with the interesting process of aging. I will concentrate on aids which are available now. Let’s look at today, and then make one more trip down memory lane. What made me what I am? How do I view the future? Can I come up with suggestions which would help those who follow, or should I settle for just cheering them on? Join me – the path is long, the questions intriguing, and the travellers few.