The signals arise, and they are not pretty:
As I am entering a state park in California two weeks ago, the gate attendant asks, “The senior discount?” Riding the MBTA to and from Boston, I am offered a seat by someone in their twenties -- in both directions! Seeing a person in the grocery store, I recognize their face, but draw a blank on whether I know them from work (the most recent job, the previous one?) or soccer (a parent of a girl I have coached?) or some other setting. (I hope that the first few words in the conversation give the pertinent clue.) Having my dentist, orthopaedist, ophthalmologist, dermatologist, or gastroenterologist say, “You just have to expect that at your age.”
I have long said, “What you lose in memory, you gain in wisdom,” but who can remember that when the pressure is on?
Here’s what I have really learned:
You don’t get to pick your family, but you do get to decide whether to have them be your family.
Your true friends are a gift, and it is never too late to find more true friends. That being said, some true friendships come to an end, and it is not necessarily anyone’s fault.
It IS better to give than receive.
A conversation with a person who is dying is humbling and awe-inspiring.