I have always admired old people
Even as a child.
Behind wrinkled skin and blue veins
Knobby knees and rheumy eyes,
Behind faltering steps and hesitant speech
I saw 'Fire'!
Not just dying embers
But hot light, crackling with energy.
I saw Attitude, fascinating and inspiring.
I said to myself: 'It takes GUTS to grow old!
And basic good health;
The right foods, exercise, clean air;
Freedom from poverty, from natural disasters ;
From war and the fear of war.
Ha! And 'family genes'!
So I wondered, as a kid,
'What have they seen, these old people
Like my grandparents?
What have they enjoyed – championed -
Endured – despised – survived!
Physically – mentally – emotionally – spiritually?
Life can be hard, not just daunting but crushing!
And yet, here they are – survivors!'
Big ideas for a young girl, I know.
I boldly challenged my elders:
'What is meant by 'the decline of life'?
'Up the hill and down the hill' seems silly.
Surely it's more like a mountain range -
Peaks and valleys as far as the eye can see -
Or the blood can flow?'
I must have been so annoying.
At least I didn't say 'disingenuous'!
Yes! Old folks shuffle and yawn
And tell the same story a hundred times
And pass gas unrealized -
But they have survived this hard world
Which is still here for us.
And the Young rightly say to the Old,
'Look at what YOU did NOT do!'
And 'YES!' reply the Old, 'We KNOW that.
We acknowledge our failings.
So, take the reins of civilization!
YOU are now the driver - and the driven!
It's YOUR turn.