Thursday, March 29, 2007

Indignities of Old Age

This afternoon, I went and picked up a parishioner and took her to the convalescent hospital where her husband is staying. He is recovering from hip surgery, but the more significant issue is that it is a place specializing in working with Alzheimer’s patients. We walked in and my (male) parishioner had no idea who I was – not surprising since I have only known him for eight months, and we only see each other on Sunday morning. He did recognize his wife – but not as his wife. He thought she was his sister, who has been dead for a number of years. She took it all in stride, having seen him in such states of confusion before. But I’m sure she is heartbroken to see her loving husband in this condition. After all, he is her whole life. And my heart was broken twice – once, for him, that a once vibrant, intelligent, and loving man has been reduced to this condition, betrayed by his own mind and body; and also for her, that she should have to see him so reduced.

I was reminded that Bette Davis once quipped “Old age is no place for sissies.” Bette was wrong. Old age is no place for ANYBODY! No one should have to suffer such indignities as my parishioner is going through. There are times when I hate how it feels to be 45. Seeing what I did today, I really don’t want to know what if feels like to be twice that age.


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