Growing Old is not for Sissies

My first job after graduating law school as a young attorney, in 1985, was doing elder advocacy. One of my colleagues bought me a great photography book of senior athletes, Growing Old is Not for Sissies, which helped confirm my understanding of aging as challenging, but for those with fortitude and perserverance, it is very possible to live a productive life into very old age.

My wife, Sheryl, and I recently arrived in Israel to visit our son, who is going to school at the Technion (Israel’s Institute of Technology). We timed our trip so we could also visit my mother, Rachel and her husband Peter, who are spending the winter in Israel, and yesterday, we arrived at their apartment in Netanya.

My mother and Peter are in their 80s, and have been spending many winters in Israel, initially doing volunteer work, and as they grew older, simply relaxing and doing some touring. Last year, they were forced to cancel their planned winter trip to Israel after my mother fell down her basement stairs and broke her femur in 5 places and 3 of her vertebrae in her neck. Thankfully, she survived and did not suffer any spinal cord damage. However, she had surgery on both her leg and her neck, which are both put together with plates and screws now. After 3 months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, she finally returned home and is now able to walk on her own, though outside of the home, she uses a walker for safety.

After we arrived at their apartment, Peter reminded me that they just are not the same as they were before my mother’s fall. In fact, he used the phrase, “growing old is not for sissies,” so I told him about the book of senior athlete photos that I received as a young elder law attorney. While aging certainly takes its toll on all of us and has taken its toll on my mother and her husband, today I marveled at my mother’s and Peter’s mobility as well as their ability to enjoy life despite its challenges.

My wife and I enjoyed lunch by the Mediterranean sea with them.

After lunch, Peter took us shopping at the outdoor shuk (market) where he readily purchased produce, eggs, some lovely prepared foods for dinner, and freshly baked onion rolls. My mother kept pace with a smile on her face.

I have written before about how I consider my mother my hero and today’s excursion reminded me of how both she and Peter truly thrive despite the roadblocks that aging places in their path. It is my intention to have the courage and fortitude to age as well as they have. I hope sharing a small slice of their aging success inspires others to age well.

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For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his website: Systems Change Consulting.

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