To the Young People on the Trail

When you see me and my friend coming up the narrow mountain trail, most of you put on your masks. If I ask, sometimes telling you that my friend has asthma, you willingly oblige or cover your face with your T-shirt, or even step off the trail to let us by. And then there’s the few who are totally oblivious.

I appreciate that most of you are more than willing to show respect to us, two women in our 70s. But I wonder if you’re asking each other: If she’s so worried, why is she on the trail? Why doesn’t she stay home and do what seniors are supposed to do: play cards, watch TV, knit, bake cookies, talk to your grandchildren on the phone or cuddle with your cat? I know there’s some resentment because my 18-year-old nephew confirmed that he knows teens who run on the trails, three or four abreast, without masks, carrying the defiant attitude that older people shouldn’t be out.

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Good-Bye to the Old Neighborhood

When I was growing up, in the fabled ‘50s, our neighborhood was full of big families—five or more children—including ours. There must have been at least 50 children in a one-block area, so anytime I stepped outside, I was sure to see kids on the streets riding bikes or in the fields behind our houses playing catch or hide-and-seek. Not only did all the children play with each other, the parents partied together on Saturday nights in basement bars.

Although that world is long gone, I still find myself surprised at the fast pace of change. Or maybe it’s that I choose to remain oblivious until something smacks me in the head, like overhearing a comment from the realtor showing the house next door—a comment that reveals I’m older than I want to think.  

When a friend and I moved into our subdivision, some 25 years ago, we were among the younger people. On either side of us were older couples, maybe in their 60s, while we were in our late 40s. Gradually younger families started moving in, but there was still a balance between the older residents—who raised their children here and formed a community—and the new ones with young children.

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Take Me Home

When my mother was in the last months of her life, and suffering from moderate dementia, she told her caregiver she wanted to go home and several times tried to “escape” from her apartment in a senior facility to get back to that home— wherever or whatever it was.

Recently, a friend who has Parkinson’s and who also experiences dementia has started wandering away from her mountain cabin, telling her worried husband and the people who find her on the road that she wants to go home. When strangers ask her where that is, she’s unable to tell them, except that it’s “hundreds” of miles away.

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