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  • Deborah Hansen

Irreverent but not irrelevant, please....

“What is your biggest fear about getting older?”

The answer took me a while—about a week of concentrated thought—but finally I was able to put my finger on this piece of quicksilver. The question skittered around in my head and just when I thought I had the answer, off it rolled to another corner to hide behind distractions like wrinkled skin, bumpy elbows and knees, and other outward manifestations of the aging process.

I fear becoming irrelevant.

Western society isn’t kind to the aging population. And I fear being disregarded in spite of the knowledge I’ve acquired over my six decades. Knowledge in several professional arenas, like customer service and teaching, as well as in relationships of all kinds. The fact that I have had great successes and colossal failures along the way make my testimony that much stronger, I believe.

But the reality is that there comes an age, a flip of the calendar, when we become invisible. Unnecessary. Irrelevant.

I see it at my mother’s assisted living facility where legitimate issues brought up by residents are disregarded and ignored, as if they are ramblings of the infirm and addled. Those in positions of authority might as well be patting the old folks on the head as they “Tsk, tsk” their way past any resolutions to the problems rather than treat them with the respect they deserve.

I saw it the last time I tried to find work. And that was over 10 years ago. I was deemed to be "overqualified" or "not suitable for the position." Interviewers (often decades younger than I) can't blurt out, "You're too damn old!" even though their eyes say it as they placate and lie about "letting you know."

So, for me personally, I don’t like any part of the aging process, especially the physical manifestations.

But I fear being treated as if I leave no ripples in my wake at all.

I love being irreverent. But I hate being irrelevant.

Esai Morales

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