It isn’t often – if indeed ever – that I dwell upon the past as a vanished period of better times gone by. In fact a more accurate calculation of my hindsight is that while there may be lessons arising or agreeable memories percolating, the primary objective is always straight ahead with a view to anticipation and excitement. Admittedly it is a privilege to do so. Thankfully I haven’t yet descended to that level of old age where I whine that everything is on the decline. Nor in fact is that even remotely correct. Certainly I suffer my fair share of medical issues but I am actively pursuing the propositions that 1.) this is the concern of my physician; and, 2.) what did you expect!
While I can’t say I’ve spent much time with people on their death bed (though indeed I have) I have instead fraternized with many older and elderly people during more buoyant times. Predominantly all of them were to me at least beacons of hope and whimsey – a posture none of them ever abandoned. From my prep school days for example I recall having visited golf clubs, restaurants and bars with parents of school friends after a football game or during those memorable occasions of a Sunday roast-of-beef dinner with Yorkshire pudding and perhaps a bottle of stout if we were lucky. I found I always had a facility with older people whom I actually thought more entertaining than some younger people. In my subsequent law practice the focus of my work was estate planning. In many instances the children of my clients were involved in the trust agreement. It was not uncommon for children – frequently older than I – to view me not as a peer but instead as an advisor to their parents and perhaps as a friend of theirs. The gloss did nothing to erode the psychical distance. My burgeoning membership in the Masonic Lodge fraternity further enlarged the scope of my acquaintance with older people.
The more important epilogue to this brief history is the imperative to forget the past, live in the present and hope for the best! I hate to say it but old age is like an old car – while it has some winsome lingering features, it is best avoided. The difference is that you can buy a new car but not youth. Once again the instruction is not to become gloomy but rather to embrace what’s ahead. I haven’t yet abused the transition by reactivating my erstwhile tobacco and alcohol renditions. I have learned that a more apt reward for endurance is reflection and thanks.