Monday, April 06, 2009

growing old

A conversation today with someone far away lead me to think about how people change as they grow old. Yes, for reasons of health, there’s that. Beyond that – there are personality issues. I know people who mellowed as they grew old. Maybe the gruffness had lost its potency and so they let it go. Others – well, they got more cantankerous. More snippy. Angry even.

Are you sure that’s a change? – a friend asked when I got into my speculative mood on this later in the day. Strikes me the person you’re talking about was always a little… difficult. I suppose I knew that. Still, what if "a little" suddenly becomes "a lot?"

What do you do with that? I’ll say this: it’s easier to confront “difficult” if you don’t live with the bitter old grump. But what if you do?

I rode my bike to campus. It was cold and terribly windy, but the absolute promise that this would be the last of the transitional cold days had me motivated. You can take a lot if you know the unpleasantness is fleeting. Scheduled to disappear tomorrow.

There was a goose on the large field that separates UW Hospitals from the lake shore. His partner goose was sitting some feet behind him. Maybe they weren’t liking each other at the minute. Maybe the old goose had become too grumpy, too difficult to sit with.


I’m thinking about Warsaw now. My father still lives with his wife (in most ways she is that and then some) in the city of my childhood. They’re in an older apartment building (when I lived there as a teen, it was already old) and most everyone in it is a generation older than me. But the apartment windows look out on a small park and there are always young voices down there, beneath the branches of the chestnuts. People walk their dogs, children jump rope, young couples hold hands and stroll. Shouldn't that make you smile?

I’m thinking about this as I sit yet again at the infusion center at the hospital. Several stalls down, an older woman sits at the side of her husband. She has to be the most agreeable white haired person I’ve come across. Is her husband equally so?

Who can tell.

As the sun retreated, Ed and I went out to the court. We played a medium good game.

[UPDATE: The post is about conversations with people who live far away. Ed, I am happy to say, has never had grumpy leanings. Mellow to the core.]