Privilege of growing old

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“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” Author Unknown

During the summer of 1990, shortly after graduating high school, I got the opportunity to take a road trip across the U.S., from NY to Montana to Arizona to Georgia and back again. I got to see Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, the Grand Canyon and a bunch of other sights. It really does give you a better perspective on how vast and varying our country is.

I’m not going to get into a great deal of detail on this trip, but am going to focus on one time period. Shortly after leaving New York, having gone through Pennsylvania and then up through Michigan, an occasional motorcycle would pass by. Now I probably didn’t even really take note at the time, except maybe to notice how loud they were, but probably immediately forgotten. Now, no one in my immediate family owned a motorcycle, so I didn’t have any reference to go by, like…oh, that’s a pan head or knuckle head. So they passed with little notice.

The farther along on this trip I went, the more motorcycles seem to pass by. By the time I was halfway through Minnesota, lines of motorcycles a quarter mile long would pass by me. There was no way not to notice them at this point. When I tell this to someone who rides, they immediately recognize the fact that I must’ve been nearing the Sturgis Rally…which I had been. Completely coincidental, I ended up at Sturgis AND found a room on the 50th anniversary of the rally! Most do not believe that part, but it is true.

Now, why did I centered on this particular time period? It reminded me of growing old. I’m 43, now I wasn’t sure if I should’ve put ‘only’ in front of that or not, but 43 sometimes feels young and sometimes not. I’ve often thought about what it means to grow old and what it all entails. The quote, “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many,” by an unknown author, surfaces more than most. My initial feeling on the quote was the differences in healthcare from third world nations to places like the U.S., but lately, with the passing of my father and father-in-law, I find a sense of Irony with the quote.

Now when you’re young, as long as it isn’t someone from your immediate family, you probably barely register the passing of fellow human beings, unless they make a lot of “noise” when they pass. However, when we get older these happen more and more frequently…until we can’t help but notice—especially, of course, when it is someone we are close to. I feel like the word ‘privilege’ seems odd, as we, that remain behind, get to see more and more of those we know and love pass. The closer we get to that final destination ourselves, the more it would seem like a never-ending procession passing by. Is this our privilege? To witness this procession?

What are your thoughts?

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13 thoughts on “Privilege of growing old

  1. You are still young and have a little more time to catch up with me too…I’m 61 will be 62 in October and I have done a lot of things in my life some I’m not so proud of but others like service to my country and seeing my grandchildren become something other than what they were is something special to me. I guess the point I’m trying to make is it isn’t how old you are but how well you live your life. Me I have done a lot of living in my short time on earth and I hope to do more before the man upstairs pulls the time I have left. However I won’t regret the people I have met along the way like you and others because if I hadn’t of met you then I couldn’t give my opinion…LOL I guess I want you to know that getting older is never the problem it’s losing all of your friends who go before you. I had a friend I had known since I was 8 and now he is gone going on 2 years and I miss him every day and I lost my husband 4 years ago…so now you see where I’m going…take care my friend and hold dear what you have….God bless you always and thank you for sharing your trip with us…Struis that is awesome..I have been there but not at 50 years…that is pretty special… Kat

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