I once could waltz around the dance floor light as a feather for hours with a glowing smile on my face. My skin was smooth and my eyes sparkled with joy and enthusiasm. I was young and vital — once.
Years later, the morning sunshine awakens me but I don’t pop up out of bed full of energy. My joints are stiff and painful. It takes me a considerable amount of time to sit on the side of the bed. Please don’t be impatient with me, I’m moving as fast as I can. Simple things like washing my face and brushing my hair make me short of breath as I struggle to raise my arms. Even feeding myself takes too much out of me some days.
If my clothes don’t match or I put them on inside-out, please don’t laugh at me. I’d appreciate your help. My eyesight is poor despite the bifocal glasses perched on my nose. It isn’t because I don’t care, I still want to look nice. The days of throwing something on and looking great are over. Now, I struggle with buttons and zippers. I prefer velcro to shoelaces because my knuckles are swollen with arthritis.
If I don’t seem to be following the conversation, please remember to speak slowly and clearly. Don’t yell at me just because I’m elderly it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m deaf.
Thank you for treating me with respect — like the adult I am and not like a child. I have lived for decades, and I have seen this world during times of peace and war. I’ve struggled with finances, raised children, and cuddled grandchildren. I’ve sacrificed and celebrated. I’ve laughed and cried. I’ve sat at the side of my parents’ hospital beds and held their hands in their last moments on this earth.
Now that I am facing my twilight years I don’t want to be forgotten while I am still alive. Come to visit me. Take me out to lunch. Your presence means the world to me.
If you see me sitting alone, stop to chat a moment. And if I repeat myself, please understand and don’t remind me that my memory isn’t as good as it once was. Just a few minutes of feeling relevant in the eyes of another human will make my entire day.
I am tomorrow. I am lost youth. I will be you.