Monday, March 28, 2011

Nick - Old People

I didn't pay much attention to old people until I went to college and there were none. Now coming back to Springfield is really strange, because there are people over the age of 40 or 50 all over the place.

Like many large demographics, you can't group all old people together. But all elderly folk have been through and seen a lot, and thus they tend to be set in their ways. I guess when you've been doing something for years, it becomes a part of you, and that's what makes our elders so different from teenagers in many cases.

I don't want to make blanket statements about how I think old people act. I'm going to talk about a few of my older relatives.

Aunt Teet

My Great Aunt Theresa, or Aunt Teet, as she encourages the kids to call her, is someone who I'm very close to. I started taking out her garbage for her at the beginning of my freshman year. Shortly after, she was no longer able to drive, and I started getting groceries for her too. I've been going to her house at least twice a week (while I'm in Springfield) for four years.

Aunt Teet loves to chat. I always set aside an hour or two on days when I go over to her house, just for visiting with her. She also writes letters to me every week or so while I'm in Champaign. She writes tons of letters, and sends out more than 100 Christmas cards ever year. Her handwriting is beautiful, and sometimes a little difficult to decipher.

Theresa has a lot to say; not being able to leave her house, she has a lot of time to think about things. She used to be a nurse, so medicine is her specialty. Despite being old and set in her ways, she isn't stubborn or entitled; I think life has taught her that humbleness is a virtue, and stubbornness yields no fruit.

Grandma Helen

Grandma Helen (or GH, as we often call her) is Aunt Theresa's sister, and they couldn't be more different. GH has always been stubborn, set in her ways, and somewhat standoffish. But she loves and values family, so we've been very close to her. She used to babysit me and my brother twice a week, and took us to dinner at least once a week after that.

GH developed Alzheimer's a little over a year ago. It's tragic, but at the same time, some of her standoffishness and her stubbornness has been washed away. Her sense of humor seems to be better than ever, and she's happy.

Papa (Pronounced "Paw-Paw")

My grandpa on my mother's side, Papa has been near and dear to me all my life. He used to care for me and my brother three days a week after school. He was a dentist, but he's been retired for most of my life. He had a big house on the lake, with a pool and a boat. We had many, many adventures in that house, and I miss it dearly to this day. Papa moved to Florida before I started high school, and it's a big deal when he comes to stay in Springfield for a week.

Papa is very stubborn, and he thinks he knows everything. He especially likes to talk about government, but has no idea how it works. He's probably in Florida running stop signs as we speak. He's 80 years old, but he still plays golf and works out every day.

We've vacationed at his house in Florida a few times, but I still miss his house on the lake. And more than that, I miss knowing that he's around and he could come visit at any time. I think he might be my brother's favorite person in the world.

Grandpa John

Grandpa John is different from all my other older relatives. He was a pathologist for a long time. He lives down the street from me. He sometimes sings at church. He isn't stubborn, or set in his ways, and he doesn't say much. He's just about the most friendly and nice person I can imagine.

Now that he's retired, he spends a lot of time golfing, caring for his beautiful garden, and making gorgeous furniture in his workshop. We built a table together once, but he did most of the hard work. I mostly just designed and sanded it. It's in my basement, and I love it dearly.

Grandpa John is way too generous. He got me my first laptop. She is an iBook G4, and her name is Lisa. She's currently sitting on a shelf at my house waiting for my dad to replace her bad hard drive.

Grandpa John also understands technology better than any old person I know. All of my other relatives here struggle to send emails. I don't think Aunt Teet has ever tried to use a computer. Grandpa John, however, has a Mac, and was using Netflix long before it became popular.

. . .

Talking to someone who grew up without air conditioning or computers is strange. It's like looking into another time period, and seeing how the people who lived then are living now. I wonder, when we get older, if we'll have characteristics stereotypical of old people? Or will the conditions we grew up in imbue different qualities?


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