Journal January 11, 2001

For me: "What is it like to be 88ish"?

Now that I have become an Octogenarian, and a senior one at that, I have come to realize how faulty my perceptions of older and elderly senior citizens were, during my youthful and middle aged years.

In fact, during my youthful years, before I was thirty,the oldest adults I knew were my Father who was 37 years, and my Mother--29 years, older than I. All my Grandparents had died before I was born. I suppose that some of my Teachers, and some of my "bosses" may have been older than my parents. I cannot write that I "knew" them.

Nor did ther situation change during my years of middle age as I became forty and fifty-ish. Although I was vaguely aware of the existence of some seniors, I did not ever experience any kind of intimately close situation with any other people over 60. Even the relationships with my parents was distant and infrequent; we ived on opposite sides of the country. They lived in California where my Father aged and died; I had moved to Virginia.

Not until I was 53, when my Mother, at the age of 82, abandoned her California ties and moved East to be near my reinforcing support, did I begin to "know" an Octogenarian. While her overall health was good, her eyesight had begun to fail. As s widow, and alone, she was experiencing feelings of insecurity. She moved into a nearby furnished apartment which was close to a library, shopping center and public transportation. She was able to live independently and comfortably until the age of 87, while experiencing the security and enjoyment of familial associations.

I was not, then, writing a journal; I have no records of my feelings and perceptions during those years. Now, my recollection is that I assumed that her perceptions about the world were exactly like mine. Probably that was my assumption about all other people; that they perceived the same identical world around us that I did.

While I must have recognized that many of my Mother's ideas and conclusions were unlike my own, I suspect that, when they differed from my own wisdoms, I tended to regard them as shallow, inconsequential, and irrelevant; possibly indicating a mild dementia.

Now I have passed that age of 87; now I am aware that my children--all fiftyish--apparently regard my perceptions in exactly that same light!

But now I am aware that our worlds are NOT the same. Our worlds are not "out there" but inside us; they reflect our individual brain perception-ings. The worlds of my chldren, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, are NOT my world. All are completely different from mine, and from each other.

But what is my world? What is it like for me to be 88ish?

[To be continued].

Adjacent Entries.

Journal January 23, 2001: