Being an elder is an exercise in patience. I find I need patience with children like my grandson and other youngsters in our lives who are just beginning to learn and need for me and for other elders to give them the freedom to learn on their own. So often we see older people jumping in to finish a task when the little one is struggling to do so or, in the words of my grandmother, dawdling. I find patience is required in the marketplace as young adults are finding their way in the work world and may not yet have learned what old school customers expect. I find that patience is needed with middle-aged adults who are still in denial that they will ever be elders and sometimes criticize elders who have what seem to them to be curious habits. But most of all, I find that I must be patient with myself.
I remember my friend and mentor, Annemarie Roeper who, at 90 years of age, bemoaned the growing discrepancy between her mind and body. In Annemarie’s case it was so true! She was still writing and publishing in her early nineties and her thinking was as clear, as deep, and as well-deliberated as anyone I knew. I told her then that I understood her grieving the loss of her physical strength and abilities. However, as I age I understand much better what it is like to grieve the losses. In addition, I understand now what patience Annemarie developed. Now is my turn.
Where do I need patience? I need to learn to be patient when my perception goes awry and I must hold the handrail as I descend the stairs. I learn to be patient and to take the time make sure I lift my foot as high as the next step, rather than fall stepping onto the porch as I did a few days ago. I need to be patience as my hearing fades and I need to ask others patiently to repeat their words. When I plan to complete a project in a few hours and it takes me much longer, I need patience. When I need to memorize a set of concepts for a psychology exam and it takes many, many more rehearsals than even a few years previous, I need patience with myself. When my eyes tire much sooner at the computer than they did just a year ago, I need patience and need to manage screen time. When I forget, I need patience. When I tire quickly, I need patience. When I ache from arthritis, I need patience. And the list goes on…
Photo on unsplash.com by Christian Langballe (https://unsplash.com/photos/3I0X0owZS7M).
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