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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Take Courage: Despair is the Enemy of Progress

The world can be a scary place.  ISIS beheads innocents. Terrorists enter public places to slaughter shoppers, worshippers and anyone in their way. Governors slash hundreds of millions of dollars from public education, social services programs and other vital services upon which millions depend.

Those who perpetuate terror and those who pull the rug out from under people who are barely surviving are using a tried and true technique to accomplish their goal to consolidate their power: Despair is the Enemy of Progress. For when we despair, many of us simply give up.  Indeed, in the worst case scenario, some commit suicide.

But for those of us who believe that the world can be a better place, giving in to despair simply allows ruthless terrorists and politicians to prevail.  We simply cannot allow that to happen and indeed, many brave people fight back.

Every day, courageous people, against seemingly insurmountable odds, take courage, because they refuse to give in to despair.  Indeed, earlier this morning, I received a message from my friend Adele Raemer, who lives on Kibbutz Nirim in Israel, which borders the Gaza Strip. She and her fellow kibbutzniks experienced the shelling from Hamas in the last Gaza War, and some of her fellow kibbutzniks were hit by those shells. Despite living in the constant shadow of war, she belongs to a secret group of Israelis and Palestinians who work for peace between their people.  Today, she shared a message from a Palestinian who said:

More evil
More troubles
Today
my boss says
Do you want peace with the Jews !! With the Israelis !! I’ve seen your photos on Facebook You are despicable traitor you … You’re Fired Dear traitor…
Never give up
I stand with peace with life with hope with you with humans.

She went on to say that yesterday she:

hosted another group from AIPAC. At one point Gadi Yarkoni came in, since we were right next door to his office. They asked him what he thought of the situation and if his political stance has changed since the summer’s war when he lost both of his legs. He, too, said that we MUST find a way to live in neighborly coexistance with the Palestinians. This is a man who was born here on the border, grew up here, is the CEO of our farm, lost both his legs and two friends on August 26th, and he, too, believes that there CAN be – no MUST be – a solution.

These brave souls, an anonymous Palestinian, Israelis Adele Raemer and Gadi Yarkoni, refuse to give in to despair because they are courageous and believe that a better way of life can be obtained even in the darkest of circumstances.

As I have written in the past:

because

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