Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Give and Take

Every week, for one of my classes, I get to spend an hour hanging out with an older lady that lives in a retirement center near by. I call her "my old lady", and I really like her. She smells like maple syrrup, has one eye that goes off to the side, is full of smiles, and always ready to talk with me openly and honestly.
I am supposed to ask her questions related to our class, so classes about aging and the things that come with it, and at the end of the semester I am supposed to write a paper about it. I am so thankful for this class or else I would have never met my old lady. We talk for an hour and I jot down the things that she says, trying my best to preserve the wisdom and experiences that may die once she does if no one is careful about collecting them. And every time we are done I slowly walk back to my room pondering over some bit of subject that she has shed her unique light on.
Today I didn't really have anything planned, so on my way over I jotted down a few ideas in my notebook. I thought about how old she is, 82, and how so many of her friends and family must have passed on before her- I asked her how she copes with that. When my words fell upon warm air that filled her house she paused for a second, gazed off for a bit and finally said, "I think I am getting hard."
Closing up to feeling and not allowing people to get close- do we all do that or is this something only my old lady and I understand? Why do we fear pain so much? Why do we feel that everyone will only end up letting us down- that is if we give them chance to even try? Why do we choose to silently suffer and put on a face for everyone else? And why is pain such a horrible thing? Don't we learn from it? But it's nice to be happy- to brush it off like we aren't affected. And what is wrong with that? Why can't we hold every one at arms length? We are happy then at least aren't we?...or are we?

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