You run into them everywhere. And yet you are not so far removed from them as well. I know, for I am 52 years old, and cannot possibly believe the simple fact that I am fast approaching that age. Of becoming ‘old’.
Sure, sometimes, they can be a pain in the ass, getting in your way at the check out counter, or taking their time driving down a road at 25 miles an hour when you’re in a hurry, the crusty husband with mouth agape, hunched over the steering wheel. Sometimes, they just drive aimlessly around parking lots, awaiting the best parking spot, oblivious to everyone around them. They attempt to park, making their 8-point turn, and eventually their behemoth of a car, usually a Cadillac or a gigantic Ford or Lincoln, is successfully parked. Usually too close to your own vehicle.
But they are endearing.
Just the other day I was at America’s most beloved store, Wal-Mart, and this elderly couple were eyeing a seemingly impossible good deal; a 48-count K-cup box of coffee for, get this, $10!
I could not believe the price, and mentioned it to them.
“Can’t be true!”, I exclaimed, giving my best Mum impersonation of utter disbelief.
“It’s true!” said the gentleman. “We got the coupon in the mail.”
Upon closer inspection, I realized why it was such an amazing deal. The box contained only three flavors: gingerbread, spice, and Buddha knows what other festive delight.
I said, “Yeah, it is a good deal, if you like these flavors.” They assured me that they did, and proceeded to place two boxes into their cart.
Another time I was at a Big Y, and this elderly couple were gazing at the case of fish in the seafood section. Here, on Tuesdays, they run a special; Tilapia at $2.99 a pound. When I placed my order, the husband asked me how I prepared such a dish. I explained, and then he told me how they usually ordered ‘Swai’, a fish I never heard of.
“Oh yeah, it’s really good! Nice and light”, he said. ” Just put it in a pan, sprinkle on some butter and parmesan, and bake!” I then told him how I cooked my tilapia, and bid them a good afternoon.
Just these happenstance meetings with ‘old people’ gives you a glimpse of how you will be in a few years. Or decades.
I can personally attest to the multitude of ‘these people’ who live among us, as my Dad was one of them. And it just happened to be at a Wal-Mart where I saw him one time.
Julie and I were shopping, and suddenly I saw ‘Pops’ rounding an aisle. He did not see us, and we just watched and marveled at his hunched demeanor, his eyes fixed on a certain product amongst the shelves. Finally we approached him, surprising him with our presence.
“Hey, Pops! How’s it goin’?”
“What do you care?” his usual response to my concern for his well-being.
Even caught off guard and displaying his usual faux gruff exterior, it was great to see him. He died not too long after that chance encounter.
Since his death, Mum has been amazingly resilient. She is fast approaching 73 (or is ti 74?) and yet soon she will be off to England next month, traveling solo, to St. Ives and visiting her sister and her hubby.
Which reminds me of my former land-lady in Brookline. Now there’s a character! She’s now 82, but still gets around on her own, wintering in Costa Rica, and tending to various rentals here and there.
Yeah, old people can be a pain in the arse. But then, so can young’uns. Like you and me.
Thank the world for the abundance of such young-challenged folk. They are, indeed, a welcome presence upon this spinnin’ blue orb.
Make the time to appreciate their presence and worth.
Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.