Intergenerational friendships are important. I didn’t learn to value older lives until I began to befriend people older than me.
“What is the point of being old?”
I would say this shit all the time. I would blare “My Generation” by The Who in my earbuds as I cursed at the old Buhler community for “ruining the world.” Progressive people come from new generations, I believed. Little did I know that progressivism stacks on the shoulders of those before me. I would learn this from my best friend’s mother while attending middle school, my older friends in high school, and the adults I befriended in college.
My mindset back then was pretty ageist. I would foolishly say in middle school that we should kill people off at a certain older age, unaware that I was advocating for genocide. It wouldn’t be until I studied Thomas Malthus for high school for debate that I could see how fucked up that was… A college friend would later confirm this for me in an honest and relieving conversation in my late teens.
My mother’s parents, Iris and Don, live in an assisted living facility. Christine and Beto, my biological father’s parents, live in a defunct motel and depend on disability and social security funds. My current father’s parents can’t take care of their acreage anymore due to their old age. Very little family members see all of them. They are almost forgotten.
Aging takes everyone. It hurts to see Iris and Don when I see them. I can barely understand Don. Iris forgets everything. They are left with each other and their memories. Their social support networks are all but gone. They could use a lot of love in their life right now. So I try to see some of my grandparents when I can and take pictures to mark the last time I see them.
I cry when I leave Iris and Don or Beto and Christine. I don’t connect with my current father’s parents much.
When I am old, I hope I am still in a sound mind and body to be at family events until I die. And if I must be kept away for various reasons, I hope someone still comes and sees me.
Fighting against the aging of our bodies is something ALL human beings face. We should be more aware of other people’s experiences and find better solutions to take care of our elderly.
Peace and love,
Jazz Hands of Death