Not that I do this, but when I encounter the elderly, whether I'm in the store shopping, in church praying, or in a restaurant dining, I so badly want to interview them.
I've always felt an affinity with the aged members of our society simply because they remind me of my own Grandparents, who are all deceased by now. I was one of those lucky ones who had Grandparents in her life. They weren't just the old relatives in our family who sat alone at parties. They were our beloved Grandparents whom we adored visiting in St. Louis and who got us excited when we knew they were coming in town. As young children, we immediately checked out our favorite spots in their home upon our arrival....the toy closet where the same old toys were stored for years and the glass tray where snacks sat in dishes. In Grandpa's office was his desk with a huge sword fish hanging on the wall and a refrigerator near by. In this round edged refrigerator were cold bottles of Dr. Pepper, one of his favorite drinks. To this day, Dr. Pepper is my favorite pop. Not only do I miss my Grandparents, I miss their old two story red brick flat with the green trim on the outside. They lived on the second floor, but worked on the first floor where their business resided. I can still clearly see each and every room in that wonderful place I can almost smell those wonderful Grandparent house smells...my home away from home.
When they drove to Kansas City two or three times a year to see us, they brought peanuts and licorice for all of us. We munched on the peanuts while we played cards throughout their visit. The licorice was mainly for my Mom since she loved it so. Although we didn't do anything special during their few days with us, their visits were always special and still bring me pleasure when I think about them. To this day, I can hear Grandpa greet us with, "Hi, my kiddoes" as he walked through our welcoming door. Presently, when I visit my own grown son and his family, I make sure to bring peanuts and candy. It's my way of carrying on the tradition as well as keeping the memories of my childhood alive within me. How I miss my dear beloved Grandparents.....
Now you have an idea why I love old people, but it still doesn't explain why I desire to "interview" them. I think it's because I am middle age and aging too rapidly for me to comprehend or accept. I see it happening to my body and yet within, I still feel the same as when I was a kid excited about seeing my Grandma and Grandpa. There is no correlation between what's happening to me physically and to the mind that still feels quite young and supple. All I know is that the first half, possibly three fourths of my life, is in the past now. My dreams and goals aren't quite the same number or as big as they were once upon a time. I see time racing and running too quickly for me to grasp and hold onto so that I can slow its speed. For some reason, this elusive thing we call time, doesn't halt to my wishes and pleading to slow down. As a matter of fact, I am ignored like everyone else.
I am scared. I am scared of dying. I am scared of not living fully. I am scared of losing my beloved, both family and friends. I want to know from these aged human beings whom I encounter how they deal with the loss of loved ones in their lives including the missing years as well. I want to know if they are afraid like I am beginning to feel. I want to know how they manage and face the faceless death that is slowly kidnapping each and every loved one they know. What does it feel like to continue losing all around them as death sneaks closer to them? What does it feel like to survive and continue on as they witness these deaths of those they love? What regrets if any, do they hold within? What wisdom and advice are they willing to share without sounding like they're preaching so we will learn from their years? If they could start all over, would they? How would they live their lives with the knowledge they now possess?
Fears and questions abound. I need the answers.