On the white velvet chair at the entrance of Rose Mall Pittsburgh in the upper class store of Nortsdom he sat alone. At times snoring at times staring in the space, he was frail and fragile but there was a determination in his eyes. What were his thoughts – was he thinking of the days gone by or of the days yet to come? Why was he sitting at the entrance – was he waiting for someone? Where were his loved ones? How did he come here and how would he go back? I left him in the Mall having lunch at Starbucks and reading newspaper.
You see old men and women like him all over shopping malls in US and UK. Some of them have their walkers, some have walking sticks, some are in wheel chairs, some on a small electric scooter, some with pipes in their noses. Most are very well dressed. Women mostly have make up on and appear to have visited the salon recently. Their health condition may differ but their determination does not.
They shop, they stand in the queue, they wait for buses, they pay their bills, they bargain, they go to cinemas, they eat out. At Times Square I have seen women with trolleys and walkers making their way to shops through the rough traffic. By their attitude and their body language the message is we may be nearing the end of our lives but we are certainly not giving it up.
I lived as a paying guest of an eighty year old Irish women in Dublin. The woman’s health condition was just fine. She however used to teach 2 days a week, do social work, would go to church, clean the house, cook herself, stitch clothes, do house repairs, go for holidays, have parties and use bus for her frequent shopping and recreational activities. She believed one must live a life and play their role as active citizens till the last breath. Back home when I would tell her stories to my relatives, they would be interested in knowing about the vitamins she had. Well she had none but her diet was just very balanced.
I have often wondered as to whether our older generation have the same enthusiasm towards life. I sometimes think yes and sometimes no. At times I have thought we make them feel old before they are old. The respect that we have for them makes us do their daily chores making them dependent on us. In our concern for them or maybe because of our social set up and our need to show to the world that we look after our elders we make them reliant on us and house helps. Maybe as they like making us dependent on them when we are young we like to do the same when they are old. What do you say?