Institution of Affiliation
The Aging Experience.
This is the aging experience according to a very close family friend, Mrs. Teresa M. East. She has always been there for me. She has become like my second mother. However, I have grown accustomed to referring to her as my aunt just to avoid the confusion that would come with having to two mothers. I have spent quality time with her over the years and now in her mid-sixties she even has more time for us. I love visiting her every so often just to sit with her and listen to all she has to say.
When I asked her about her perspective on aging, she took a long breath then gave me a broad smile. Then she went on to say that to her it is a privilege. First of all, she knew so many people, some even younger than her who never made it to 40. Some of them never even got to graduate from high school but she did. Then she went on to marry a very good man whom they shared the high and low times. She has had the chance to travel to so many places and meet so many people. She has achieved so many things she could never have thought of yet there still could be more she is yet to accomplish. At this time, she so fondly calls the dusk, it is her time to sit down and reflect. Right now she is not hoping to travel as much as before or work as hard as then. After all, it is dusk. All the energy of the day is gone. You will probably find her in the kitchen cooking, on a sofa with a blanket watching news or in bed reading a novel. on a sunny day she will be watering her flowers, taking in the fact that they still have it in them to bloom. She doesn’t like moving around anymore. She says she had her time and that is long gone. Now she just wants to sit down and watch the world in motion.
Aunt Teresa says she actually very happy to be getting older. When she was an adolescent, she really wanted to grow older. Looking forward to every birthday and telling everybody about it. She wanted to be an adult, mature and independent. To leave home and fend for herself, but like everybody else, when she got to be all that, she did not like it. Being a young adult is not that easy. It is the time when you experience the most pressure from friends, family and society. It is also the stage where you have to make very many life decisions.
You need to choose college, a career, a boyfriend and husband, a friend, a car, the town to live in among other things. Most of these decisions affect the rest of your life. They determine whether you will be happy or sad. Sometimes you have to let go of your dream and choose another path. It is also a time when you get to meet very many people and make temporary friends. Only very few of those actually stick with you for the rest of your life. She could only mention two friends she met in college that she is still in contact with. She met some really bad friends too. Her first roommate in college was really mean and hostile not just to her but to everybody else. She would chase her friends whenever they came to visit and aunt Teresa just decided to move out.
At some point she could not raise rent and she had to live in her car. She would spend the night in there and in the morning clean up at the school bathroom. She survived on canned food for a month or two. Eventually she got a job as a waitress by day and nanny by night. She squeezed her classes in between her free time and that is how she got a degree. Thereafter, she had just a few months of searching but then she got a good job and all that suffering was gone. She was keen on saying that it gets really tough before it gets easier, but you have to trust the process. Things do get better with time. Even as she recalls those days, she is not overwhelmed with sadness as expected. She is glad she went through that. Especially then when she had the endurance to survive. That actually formed the basis of the person she is to date.
Aunt Teresa says that in her life she got to achieve a lot of things, especially during her middle age. Some of the titles she still carries them. However, there is a lot that she never achieved. Some dreams that they had for so long but never got to see them pass. Sometimes she worked so hard for something but it did not work for her. She had always wanted a child of her own. But as fate would have it, she never did. She spent so much money in different hospitals and undertook very many procedures in vain. A time comes when you realize that this road is heading nowhere. When you do, you change direction. You make peace with the fact that some things are never going to be as you wanted. Together with her husband, they opted to love other people’s children as if they were her own. She also got a pet named Dolly who mothered three puppies. that was their happy family until they all died of old age.
Their retirement plan together with her husband was to own a three-star hotel and work their way up to a five star. It all started well and worked perfectly for a year or so. Then things started going down the drain. It was eating deep into their pockets. slowly drowning the little savings, they had. They consulted a professional and decided that it was best to do away with it. sometimes you don’t need to give up, you just have to let go. You look at the reality of things and pick the best option. That in itself may not even be a very good one. But just go with the better of the worst options. You accept that you are never going to win all wars. Sometimes it’s just an experience that you get from it all.
The lesson may come later in life. She says that right now is when gets the answers to some of the questions she had then. Some of them are very vague. All she needed is a second look and she could have solved it then, but she was in such a hurry going nowhere and she missed it all. It is true that something’s are not clear. They are not meant to be. They call for patience to decipher their meaning. Her advice on that not being, don’t be in too much hurry. You might miss it all together. Take your time. Find a quiet place and the tranquility of it all will bring order to every haze. find the place that bring you joy and go there often. Be content with what you get. Accept what you can’t change and share what you know. People do not just need physical and material help. They need knowledge too. Knowledge in itself is a powerful weapon. It can set people free.
She says as she wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night, she has no regrets whatsoever. Given a second chance, she would have done it all the same way. This has nothing to do with the fact that she made perfect decisions. Some of them where not so good, but they all brought her here. Changing anything will probably change everything else. Therefore, you learn to work with whatever you get to your advantage. Find the positive in everything and base your dealings with that. Find the joy in it and you will love it. Do not try to change people on the other had. Most of them are wired from birth and it is a waste of time teaching an old dog new tricks. Better yet, listen to wise people. They say very little, but that is all that you need to keep you warm on a cold day and cool on a hot day
My aunt has always managed to leave me in awe. She represents the world I live in today, tomorrow and a few more years to come. It is like getting a handout to a question you know you will meet in the examination. I know I will be facing all these at some point and I try so hard to understand and memorize everything. So that I can be ready for whatever life throws at me. In the long run, when dusk falls upon me. I want to be a happy old lady at some point. Watch the sun go down, on a rocking chair. Listening to an old record playing soft music in the background. As the cold wind blows the grey strands on my head. I want to have nothing but a contented smile plastering my winkled face.
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