I get along well with old people. That may be because I am one. I certainly don’t feel like it. But when I look at how many years I’ve occupied this physical form, well it’s hard to deny.

Old folks are so often directed towards and shown the exit. They are eased out of the job at about age sixty five. 

Driving privileges from the state become more difficult to renew. As one ages, doctors, insurance companies, pharmacists and such stress the need to slow down, care for the body and take things easy. Drugs are readily prescribed for every and any ailment and complaint.

If I were to diagnose the main malady and ailment of the elderly in our society these days, I would have to say it’s loneliness.

There’s the exit and withdrawal from the work-a-day world. No longer being a productive and responsible citizen creates a vacuum in one’s life. You miss your workmates and the day to day challenges of the job that has become such a permanent fixture in your environment.

You were programmed from childhood on, to look and act young, healthy, active and attractive. When this cycle finally begins to wane, well you may begin to question life’s purpose and meaning.

You / we are steered and diverted away from the busy thoroughfare of every day active life. Families ease us into retirement communities.

 Doctors and clinics recommend nursing homes. Medical facilities and insurance organizations treat us like ATM machines. We are ignored, neglected and treated as a lower class minority. No wonder there is a feeling of loss and loneliness. 

There may well come the death of one’s spouse. Having to leave your family home and downsize can be such a shock. You may feel your life slipping away. 

Physical and mental impairment along with the effects of aging on your former strong, healthy body and just looking in the mirror convinces you. You are old!

So goes the sad tale in the latter years, months and days of our material existence. After all our great challenges, triumphs and glories; the thrills, happiness and joys of a lifetime become just memories. Should it’s ending be so sad and lonely?

To have survived, conquered and won through all these years; should the reward for winning be so harsh and cruel? Isn’t it more of a punishment than a reward?

In our Western materialist society we are programmed and indoctrinated from early childhood on to identify with and become the physical form of the body itself.

Name, rank, social security number, fingerprints and signature; it is you and you are it! Or so they tell and convince you over and over in so many ways. And after many decades it has really sunken in. You consider yourself a solid, material, mortal form.

And after all this time of accumulating material possessions, identifying yourself as physical and becoming so, the time comes to let it all go.

But who or what animates this form? Who is it that thinks, reasons and perceives? Who is aware of existence in life here and now? Are these really the abilities of a physical body?

I would like to know what you think of this.

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Her name is Judy. I call her “Judy Blue Eyes”. I first met her not long ago when she was walking her little dog in our senior community. Her bright, sweet smile struck me right away. I liked her from the start.

Judy is my neighbor, about my age. I’ve gotten to know and spend time with her. She has a clean, clear space. She seems to have let go of any and all antagonisms and anxieties. What remains is a soft, sweet, smiling presence.

I recently joked with Judy saying “I’m perplexed. I don’t rightly know how to view our relationship. Am I your long lost cousin, big brother or crazy old Irish uncle?”

She looked at me quite seriously and replied “Brother”.

When someone refers to me as brother, well it touches my heart.

It seems we may have both found a way to ease the loneliness.

Dan O’Connor can be reached at danhughoconnor@gmail.com.