Sing-Songs and Wheelchairs


I admit it, I’m having a hard time getting older. In my head I’m still twenty-four, though the mirror tells me otherwise. I am noticing that I am now usually the oldest person in the room, partially because my sons are two of my best friends and I tend to hang out with them and their friends a lot. I am not complaining, few people are privileged enough to be invited to concerts and parties by their kids friends, but I do tend to stick out when every other person is in their early twenties. It is, however, awesome for flirting with the twenty-somethings because they can think of me as a creeper, and I like embarrassing my sons in public. Ok, maybe that is too much information.
This week, however, I am ridiculously young. As I write this I am careening towards Catalina Island, sitting at the Crooner Bar and watching old people with walkers. So many old people. Cruises attract the elderly, offering a relatively effortless opportunity to see the world without all the hassle of actually going anywhere.
What has surprised me, however, is the sense of entitlement among a demographic which has traditionally had to learn to live without. Many were the children of depression who now are not averse to complaining over the slightest perceived slight. This morning not one person at our table, other than my dad and I, ordered a single thing off the menu and were completely put out if their bizarre requests were not immediately available. Several people, in spite of only having to pay $80 a day, have loudly complained that the billion dollar ship is not adequate for their paltry wants. Never mind that they are living a life of luxury that most of the world cannot imagine, their damn prunes weren’t chilled enough. We are used to seeing entitlement among the young, a generation raised by overprotective and indulgent parents. It is somewhat surprising to see it among the other end of the spectrum. I cannot imagine what the staff are thinking, many of whom are from “have-not” countries, behind their painted smiles and gentle kindness.
Entitlement is a guaranteed recipe for disappointment and bitterness. If you believe life will let you down then you are almost certain to be proven correct. Everyone of us has ample ammunition to paint things in a negative light. Living a life of gratitude does not seem to come naturally to most people, especially the old. The older we get the more we seem to become a caricature of our younger selves. Bitterness seems to grow if we let it, and many of us are letting it run wild.
Life is what we make it, as the old cliché says, and I for one intend to make it a good one, no matter how old I may become. Just being born where I was and given the opportunities I have been given is better than winning the lottery and the day I forget that please put me out on the ice flow.

7 thoughts on “Sing-Songs and Wheelchairs

  1. I am afraid that even though I am middle aged, even I slip in and out this mindset. It is not entitlement for me so much as lack of tolerance due to my mood disorder. If I am low and struggling to find some joy or peace of mind, I can barely decide what to eat during a bout of mania or depression. When I finally come up with something I think I can manage to stomach and what is provided is not what I asked for I react badly. Not rudely but not as accepting and easy going as I would on a good day. Sigh* It is not a fun role to be cast to play.

  2. I have noticed the same thing, and I agree with your assessment wholeheartedly. There’s a lot to be said for growing old with grace.

  3. I like that – “put me out on the ice flow”. I tell my kids if I get like that, take me out and shoot me.
    I have had some challenging discussions with my (retired) mother about senior entitlement. I try to look at it as fear (of death, of pain, of dementia) expressed as greed. It makes no other sense to me.

  4. I’m not sure I agree with your conclusions of the observations of older people but I wasn’t there so I can’t say with certainty. However, that not why I’m writing. It good to see another oldster who sahaes my experience of having a good relationship with his sons. I’m 60 and my sons are 20 and 21. I started a family late. I adopted the older one and the younger one came to live with us when he turned 18. We have a goo relationship as I said and they are best of friends and do everything together. I’m glad to see that. They rarely argue or fight. It’s a wonder to see them laughing and playing on the computer together.

    At 60 when I look in the mirror, I view this old man looking back at me. I don’t recognize him. IIt’s me, but ‘m not that person inside. I’m still somewhere in my twenties rocking to the sound of Harry Nilsson, The Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas, ect. Suffice to say, we inside live the best days of our lives. Just put a lime in the coconut and drink ;em bod’ up…

  5. Brilliantly written as always. It is odd isn’t it how the elderly have found a way to be permanently disappointed. I’m with you. I intend to be a happy wrinkled prune, no matter what the circumstances that surround me.
    Either that or I’ll join you, blogging about minor disasters, on that ice flow…

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