Me @ 75
A few years ago, when I was taking a John Collins class, he asked us
to write a small paper on what we thought we would be like at 75. I
found that paper on my computer and wanted to share! I hope you enjoy!
Thanks John for the Inspiration!
Me @ 75
The other day I was walking through old
St. Augustine when I came upon a small shop slightly hidden on a side
street. Although I’d been through these streets hundreds of times, I’d
never seen this shop. It was one of those New Age shops with Healing
Crystals and Yoga Mats so I decided to take a look inside. I walked
around the store several minutes before I noticed a small table at the
back of the room with a sign that plainly asked, “Do You Want To Know?”
Suddenly a man appeared and asked me, “Do You Want To Know?”
“Know what?” I asked innocently.
“Your future” he stated with a smile.
“Yeah right”, I smirked, “What? Do you have a crystal ball?”
“As a matter of fact I do” he grinned as
he placed the ball on the table. “Have a seat, and I’ll tell you what
you want to know.”
“What do you do for a living?” he asked.
“I am an Activities Director in a nursing home”, I grimaced as I awaited the normal reply of “oh so you play bingo”.
That reply didn’t come, “ Oh that is a very rewarding but difficult job.”
“Yes, Yes it is” I stammered in disbelief. Someone actually understood activities.
“Now tell me what you want to know,” he smiled.
“Well since I work with the elderly everyday, I would like for you to describe me at 75.
He took my hand and began to grimace.
“Well at 75 years old, you will be a resident in a 120 bed skilled
nursing facility where most of the residents are Medicaid residents. It
isn’t a very good place but that is all you can afford since you worked
in nursing homes all your life and put nothing away for the future.
You have no friends to visit because you never had any time to make
any. Your husband and children have all but abandoned you because you
were never really there for them throughout the years. You and your
spouse drifted apart and your children never really bonded with you
because you spent too many hours at work doing activities. You have
lots of physical impairments and your body is falling apart due to the
many years of neglect. Those physicals, diet and exercise that you
never had time for really were extremely important.”
He keeps going as if he has caught his
second wind, “Due to a stroke you have trouble communicating your needs
and you have some cognitive impairment due to age but you are aware of
everything that is going on around you. You feel as if you have no
dignity left. Every time you forget something you become extremely
afraid that you have Alzheimer’s. Your activity person states on your
care plan that you “refuse group activities but enjoy independent
activities” and the only thing you really ever do is sit and “watch the
dust fall off the ceiling”. Oh yeah and you count floor tiles to keep
from listening to the other residents moaning and crying. Your care
plan also states that you “sit at nursing station and you socialize with
residents and staff”. Of course that really means that you are sitting
there bored to death because you don’t know what to do and know that
they wouldn’t listen if you had an idea. Your care plan also states
that you “enjoy reading”. Of course you are just staring at the pages
which never turn because you are unable to flip the pages and they keep
giving you small print which you just can’t see.”
“Whoa”, I said with the exasperation evident in my voice, “I don’t want to know anymore! How can I change my future?”
“Well, he smiled softly, you must learn
to take care of yourself. One can not take care of others unless they
first take care of themselves. Stop and “smell the roses” so to speak.
Spend time with your family and develop lifelong friendships. There are
many things you can do if you start NOW” “Also don’t forget KHARMA!
What you do for others now including your residents will determine what
you get back later in life. Activities is your life now and it will be
your life in the future!
“Why don’t you make a few changes in life and come back to me in a few months. Let’s see if they make a difference.”
I thanked him quickly and left with my plan in mind.
I took everything he told me to heart and
I started to make small changes in my routine. I began to take my
lunch break away from my desk regardless of what was going on. I
actually took a real vacation something I had never done in the past. I
trained my assistant to take on different duties and forced her to also
learn how to take care of herself. Many other changes were put in
place as I had not liked what my future revealed.
I did return to his quaint little shop a few months later with much anticipation.
He greeted me with a warm, “Do You Want To Know?”
“Yes”, I answered slowly as we sat at the small table again.
His eyes were bright with anticipation as
he began, “You must have really made some changes. Well at 75 years
old, you will have some physical and cognitive impairment due to age but
you function pretty well in both aspects. You have some aches and
pains but nothing out of the ordinary. You live in a nice senior
community with your spouse who still adores you after all these years.
You are very active in the lives of your children and love spoiling your
grandchildren. You still won’t go down to play Bingo because you still
hate that game. However you have started a Red Hat Society and have a
habit of telling the Recreation Leader your ideas and “how things should
be done”. Your finances are not a concern because you retired from a
very lucrative career as an award winning novelist and the founder of
Florida’s number one resource for Alzhiemer’s Disease and Activities
“Whoa! That’s enough, I want some of it to be a surprise!”
I grinned as I thanked him for everything.
“How much do I owe you,” I asked.
“Nothing”, he smiled, “My advise and
visions are free – just please take what I say to heart – I have insight
that others do not ”.
“Thank You”, I said again as I opened the door to leave, “by the way, what is your name”.
“John, John Collins is my name”, He answered!