I’ve been thinking recently how lonely it must be for the elderly. I’m not speaking about how often family comes to visit or how much time they spend in a rest home. I’m speaking about their generation passing away and the life experience they shared passing away with them.
I remember my Grandfather watching the History Channel pretty much non-stop. Nobody engaged him in conversation or asked him about his experience. Most of his friends that had experienced the same were now deceased and so he sat there in his recliner simply remembering his own life as a young man in time of war.
How lonely it must be to be surrounded by a younger generation that knows nothing and simply does not care to know about the things you’ve experienced in life. I imagine it to be as though one is stuck at port waving goodbye to old friends who have embarked upon the final journey we experience with death.
I watched a movie recently that really put this in perspective called “Ode to My Father.” It is a South Korean movie that follows the tremendous events of a Korean man who experienced the war as a child and then had many other major life events such as working in a coal mine in Germany. He kept a simple store and as the neighborhood grew up around him and modern buildings erected, he refused to change. The young would always tease him calling him hold fashioned and stubborn but he was still waiting for his father to return who told him he would meet him at this store when they were separated during the chaotic events during the war. He never arrived but did come to the old man in an apparition
I imagine myself growing old, my friends passing away and how nobody will be interested in my own life events. They may listen with a sympathetic ear but can never really relate. I’ll be alone, reading this very post and reminiscing about my own past.
How lonely it must be to grow elderly with nobody to relate to. I imagine that when this feeling grows severe I would rather walk into the waves of the Pacific Ocean never to return. The young would try to stop me, just to keep me around for their own sake, to keep me on the mantle as a souvenir, as something that “belongs” to them and thus something with which they would rather not depart as it might make them sad with no thought to my own feelings. Our society only focuses on keeping something alive at all costs because they believe that any type of life is better than death. If I should become incapacitated or if I’ve grown so lonely in my old age I truly hope I’m able to leave this world in a fashion of my own choosing and not have a tired life drawn out by a society that simply cannot understand when letting go is the best option.
It is now, at 38 years old that I understand the importance and am truly interested in listening to the stories of the old. In fact, I bought a book called “Memories of Silk and Straw,” which is written by a Japanese doctor who also realized how precious the memories of the elderly are. He tended the elderly and through their stories made a marvelous book. Society forgets the past, and does not care. This is a grave mistake as a society should learn from the past but more importantly these memories should be kept alive for their own sake.
I am master of my own ship and God forbid the day when others try to take the wheel and dictate what I should do with my own life. Should I have the fortune to grow very old, I may one day disappear without warning but would be certain to leave a message of farewell should you be clever enough to find it. Do not try to stop me or I would prefer you be disinherited.
I often write about my descendants hearing this very post in hologram that looks like me. From an article I discovered today about Japanese scientists creating a touchable hologram I imagine that my idea will turn into a reality in 50 years or so.
Thus, I give my descendants these instructions. If I ever lose my mind it is my will to die as quickly as possible. If I’m at a state where I no longer have any say over my own affairs or can control the course of my own life I would prefer to stick a dagger in my own belly and be done with it. Should any descendant block these attempts it is my will they be disinherited from any meager fortune I may have and may I return as a ghost to haunt them. The preferred method of death would be by being dropped in the ocean at night so I can feel the numbing cold of the ocean, look at the stars and slip away into infinity. I imagine that would be a grand finale to a lifetime trying to feel as alive as possible. It is this feeling of being alive which makes me watch the sunsets and sunrises; it is why I enjoy sliding down a mountain on a snowboard or walk quietly through a rice field; it is the reason I get on a surfboard and enjoy being in the ocean even though I may never catch a wave; it is why I lay on the bench outside on a cold night just to look up at the stars and ponder all the unanswerable questions. To be an old man, bobbing in the ocean while my body slowly turns numb, with the profound depths and unseen creatures below while I look up and the infinity of space and the Milky Way. A life with a unique experience about to slip away forever holds a bit of romanticism, an utterly fantastic way to say goodbye to this world. The worst way would be for you all to stick me in a rest home with young, impatient nurses with whom I can never relate ordering me around and telling me to eat my mashed potatoes which I still hate as I did as a child.
Should I make it to 90 years old I wish to die alone, as far away from the shore and polluting lights as possible. Leave me there to float among the waves and gaze upon the stars; to really feel alive once more. I wish only to ponder the infinite one more time before I join it.