The refrigerator

Published on: 18th June 2014
The refrigerator door was finally empty. Not inside, the outside, where all the appointments for doctors, dentists, after-school activities, school projects are posted. You know that that stuff that fills up a life time. I never called us empty nesters, but empty refrigerator door people. The kids had grown, they have wives, babies of their own, and now both my husband and I had to learn to cook smaller amounts of food, else we'd be stuck eating chilly for a whole week. We work full time in a demanding family business that employs hundreds of people. We each have responsibilities that usually involve making sure our staff follows through on theirs. It's a twenty four hour a day business, and we are masters at it. Somehow as invasive as the business is the change at home sits heavy on our hands. Sickness came in and robbed us of peace of mind, and while the battle against cancer took up a good four years, we were victorious. Accepting new limitations, we found that we had to redefine ourselves and life at sixty two for my husband, fifty five for me which looked a lot different than the Viagra commercial on television.

They say that you see the most change in a person's life when s/he goes from being an infant to a toddler to finally a child. In five short years, the changes were metamorphic. Well, going from fifty to fifty five was just as life altering. Not only do we find things not working the way we expect them to, we find ourselves going from a vital, important person to irrelevant, bordering invisible. America does not venerate age. While Dame Judi Dench may be respected in the UK, in the States, women are inflating their lips and injecting their faces with poison to keep the work coming. Age is seen as the enemy.
the refrigerator,appointments
I sat in mute shock watching my life unravel, fighting an uphill battle not to be ignored. Like Willie Lomax, I wondered why older people are discounted as unimportant, an irritation met with impatience. My grandmother lived with my parents. She was the matriarch of the entire family. When the pediatrician told me to use a product or feed my child a certain way, my grandmother might have disagreed. She would fold her arms over her ample chest, the one that nurtured five children and seventeen grandchildren. Rolling her brown eyes, she would tap her foot and bite her lip letting us know who the best source for information was. The funny thing was her remedies worked better than many of the professionally suggested ones. Till the day she died, I called her to ask questions, or listen to her wonderful stories that awakened a love for all things of history for me. The oral traditions of her story telling, the family myths, and her solid advice were incredibly valuable and shaped me as both a mother and a businesswoman. So, why can't I get the same respect?

Mind you, I am not talking about my children. We have deeply respectful relationships where we work and play together. I am talking about the external world that dismisses people simply because they are older. Why does the age deem them less valuable? Does not that vast store of experience and knowledge make them infinitely more interesting? Older people have become the butt of jokes, the ones barely tolerated, to be pushed aside for the newer, more improved models that cheat age with sleight of hand tricks, until they are found out and ridiculed for clinging to youthful dreams.
I have always respected age. As a teenager, I would have rather spent an hour with a senior than at the mall trying on clothes. Older people's patchwork of memories created a crazy quilt of dreams for me to strive for, giving me the taste for both adventure and ambition. So what have I learned after so many years? My children don't define me, my job does. Dick Clarke of American Bandstand said it best when he proclaimed that he just wanted to be relevant until the end. I want to make ripples on the pond of life, influence people, and create my own crazy quilt of dreams for younger people to use as a pattern to reach their own. Take my advice, it's been well tested and I am willing to share. I am not done yet either. I have room on my own quilt to add more patches and I am delighted to continue doing it.
On a scale of 1-10, how inspiring did you find this article?