Age fright | Inquirer Opinion
In the Pink of Health

Age fright

/ 04:25 AM September 26, 2022

“Love and appreciate your parents. We are often so busy growing up, we forget they are also growing old.” (John Spence)

It has been years since I saw those lines on a rusty and tired-looking billboard while sitting through traffic in Edsa. Remembering never fails to make me tear up. Time will never stand still for anyone, and aging is inevitable. Our parents have a head start. To this day, the very thought of having gone through the painful process of losing a father makes me instantly go into denial mode.

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Two weeks ago, I mentally stockpiled on Instagrammable moments. It is undoubtedly one of several personal coping mechanisms. If I were to choose a favorite, it would be of me and my beloved mother navigating two flights of stairs going to the living room. I was holding on tightly to her hand to ensure stability, most likely very similar to the way she held on to mine when I was a toddler, and the sight of her two feet in bright red-orange rubber slippers landing flatly and squarely on the steps instantly reminded me to be thankful and grateful that, at 90, she is still physically and mentally able and we are more than blessed to still have her with us and to let her know it every single day.

Aging. How often, or if at all, have you ever entertained intense thoughts about aging and what it means? Sitting in the office after having gone through a case that still required answers, I decided to take a mental break, and deliberately targeted some friends who, like me, were past the half-centennial mark and blandly weaved it into the ongoing conversation. Two out of the three spoke about the fear of infirmity and, of the two, one shared her wish that, hopefully, she would not be a burden to her children. The third person in our circle of four shared that he liked being at this stage in his life because of the added value of experiences and wisdom afforded by time. The fourth one was busy trying to internalize all the inputs and, energized, focused on gathering a fifth which came at the latter part of the day. That one was equally enjoyable mainly because of the emotional swings it triggered. It was short of being frenetic. The conversation started off with the fear of losing the “suppleness of youth” and the daily acceptance of the science of gravity. It ended on a serenely reflective and joyful note as we were in agreement that aging puts you in a better place because, by then, you have carefully mastered the importance of looking outward.

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I have gathered only a few insights that may not encompass or speak for the majority. Each one will always have and come from a different perspective, and it would be exciting to listen to more. For the moment, let us take time to dwell on those that have been shared. Why the exercise? It comes from the absolute necessity to have a deeper grasp for understanding what our parents and the elderly must be going through.

The ultimate goal is to be better or be the best at being more sensitive and attuned to their needs way beyond the basics. The thoughts on aging shared might also be theirs. These may remain unspoken either from the loss of the ability to do so or did you ever think that they chose to remain silent simply because they will always be the selfless parent who will forever be considerate of their children and their feelings?

If you haven’t expressed your love or appreciation lately, start building your own treasure of memories and strive to make more. Make room for them in that busy schedule because time was fashioned to be a one-way street and there is no chance of ever going back. Life is complicated enough, do not add to your regrets.

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