Thought #27. On ageism.

I do not believe in innate wisdom. Wisdom is the accumulation of experience and knowledge, which ironically can only be acquired by growing old, and yet the elderly is too often a burden on families and society. Human condition leaves a lot to be desired. This unfair treatment makes me feel an unutterable sadness. I cannot help but be filled with anger and rage against these parasitic leeches that sucked everything out of their elders.

Aunt Lola lived an unconventional life. She was a maiden aunt until her seventy-somethings, except that she had no nieces or nephews. Her only brother died aged 18. Lola was married for five years and hers was not a marriage of convenience. She waited for 50 long years until Mariano turned up because he did not even consider going off with Lola. He patiently awaited his first wife’s death. Then, he moved to Lola’s town and called her. They met. They got married. Five years later, he died.

No close relatives, no kinship was left after Mariano’s death. Lola only had herself to blame, except that she had a family. Because you are not dead whilst your name is still spoken. Lola had a flat with four rooms, three of which were occupied by renters. They were always men, yet she never had even a brief romance with any of them. Rafa, my father-in-law, was one of her renters.

Rafa, Reme and their children were guests at Lola’s marriage and also acted as witnesses. A handful of friends, including acquaintances, were the rest of the lot. Lola’s family were Rafa and Reme, especially Reme and her daughter Marta, who is now my wife. I met Lola shortly after meeting Marta. Lola was her aunt, except she was not.

We used to visit Lola periodically. Maybe not as often as we should have done. Anyway, Lola was also my aunt. Lola could be somewhat annoying at times. She needed care, attention, protection. She needed a shoulder to cry on. She had us, her family. I cannot blame her for lacking a family, except that she had us.

In her last days Lola could not stay at home. Despite having two caregivers, her wisdom was fading away. We arranged a nursing home because of that. She had been suffering from depression and other medical conditions. Some years before, when she was still in good health, she tried to stay in a retirement home, but it did not work. She ironically felt that her mates were too old, almost geriatric. She blissfully decided to return home, not knowing that she was about to face her worst days.

Already in the nursing home a suddenly unexpected and dramatic event took place. We received a phone call. By the muffled voice of the woman on the phone we knew full well that something was going wrong. A man, well in his sixties, had showed up asking for his mother. We could not believe it. That was utterly impossible. She had never had children. She had never had a romantic relationship, except that she had. He was probably in search of money. She had no will, she had no money left. A week later, Lola died.

A poem…

Tell me whether the seashore
has caressed your feet
Tell me whether the foam
has kissed them yet
Tell me whether the sea waves
have followed your trudge
Tell me whether the swirling clouds
have even touched you
Tell me whether the warm wind
has murmured sweet nothings
Tell me whether the sun
has emerged to play with you
Tell me whether the rainbow
has heard your song
Tell me whether you notice
my hearth’s warmth
Think that you are not alone
my thoughts are with you

…by my Aunt Lola