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Archive for January, 2017

While it is easy to embrace the concept of the Third Act in one’s sixties, what happens in the ensuing decades.

Over the last four weeks, along with other family members, I have been heavily involved with my 88-year-old mother-in-law. In her words, ‘it is not funny to be sick’.

Not only is it not funny, it is a wake-up call for all of who, despite our best efforts, will most likely be in her shoes one day. This winter’s GI bug hit her on December 27th and it has been a challenging upward battle ever since. Three visits to the ER. Traversing the waters of will she make it or not. Encouraging and cajoling her. Supporting my amazing and patient father-in-law. I admit to being overwhelmed at times, as we in our family all are.

I worked in the health care system for 25 years and for the last 10 years of my career I dedicated much of my time to developing geriatric services within my hospital and the Montreal community. Still I was unprepared when the issues I dealt with then landed firmly on my doorstep.

Before I continue, let me be clear that I am grateful for our health care system and for the many kindnesses we have experienced with the ER staff and mom’s surgeon. And, I have experienced the other side, the one I witnessed too often among my health care colleagues – the invisibility of the elderly.

It was during her second visit, with one nurse in particular, that edgy attitude, the “I can’t be bothered, she is simply old”. When I look at Dorothy I see the woman who raised six children, who at the age of 40+ returned to school to complete her High School diploma, an opportunity she was denied as a teenager. I see a women who then went on to college and became a draftsman and went on to work in drafting for a number of years, working well into her sixties. I see the amazing grandmother of thirteen, a grandmother who was actively engaged in their lives, the ‘go to’ babysitter. I see the great-grandmother of five. I see the woman who danced at my sixty-fifth birthday celebration only two years ago, with her partner of over 65 years Ron, and stunning the room with her agility. I see a little ‘Mighty Mouse” for although she is small of stature she has always been big of spirit. I see her quiet presence, the strength behind her husband Ron, the man who has been a community leader. I see the role model she has been for me and her entire family.

And I weep, for her and no longer being visible to some, for those who don’t even try to see her and what they are missing.

Don’t get me wrong – there is lots of pressure in health care. AND you and I know that the elderly do not command the recognition and respect they truly deserve in our society.

We need to MARCH – to show our colors, to share our accrued wisdom, to collectively stand together and not be overlooked. I want the elderly to be VISIBLE.

I am not an activist by nature and, in this year 2017, a year of new beginnings, I am wondering why I am being gifted with this situation. Yes, I want it to go away and selfishly I want Dorothy to come back to us, to health. And on the larger scale, I am witnessing the complacency of the young and the lack of stature we as the Third Actors, hold in society. I want to change that. I don’t have a strategy yet, and as I declare this intention here, I am sure the Universe will show me the way.

For those of you who read this, I ask for your prayers for an amazing 88-year-old named Dorothy. I pray for what is in her highest good.

For those of you who believe as I do that we must be visible, I welcome your input and ideas as to how we empower our generation, the baby boomers, the largest  wave of aging humans in history, and how we influence societal attitudes that continue to exist. Each of us has a role. I am seeking to understand mine.

If like me, you have an aging parent, make sure you remember them, the life they led, and the amazing feats the accomplished. The greatest gift we can offer is to SEE them!

love-on-the-rise

Until next time, let us rise in LOVE!

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