Aging Without Labels, PLEASE!

Phoebe 2

Phoebe, younger and older

I have been living at Hesperus Village for several years now, and have heard many stories from older people about their youth and adult life.  Although there may be regrets and a touch of sadness, there is usually an overriding feeling of warmth and gratitude for all their life experiences and special human relationships.  For instance, I remember Phoebe speaking about her participation in the groundbreaking work of the brain surgeon Wilder Penfield, and how happy she was to have had this opportunity.  Her expression in the photo above captures something of this highly refined emotion.  (Watch the Hesperus video for some other stories.  If you don’t have time for the whole 12 minutes, tune in for the conclusion at the 10-minute mark.)

It is for this reason that at Hesperus we sometimes speak of the fulfillment of old age.  Aging is not an illness or a disease, but a ripening process with wonderful fruits.  Expressions like aging with grace, dignity, success and so on, are well-intentioned, but stigmatizing.  Let’s just call it AGING!

If we would just take a little time and listen to the old folks, we might discover that aging isn’t so bad after all – We might even learn…

Yeats Decreptude

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