Mind Matters

by Rev. Robert H. Tucker

Number 395
January 1, 2001

T. S. Eliott (1888 - 1965)

Growing Older

Repeatedly hearing the routinely spoken, toss-away line "You're looking good," is an absolutely certain sign one is growing old--at least in the eyes of the speaker. Following a hospitalization, the statement makes sense. After a successful effort to lose weight, the comment is complimentary. Decked out in a new wardrobe, the observation is pleasing. But, used as a conversation-filler with the ageing, the words strip away a bit of humanity.

There are legitimate signs of becoming that part of society euphemistically known as "senior citizens."

My companion of many decades and I sat on a streetcar in Australia and watched a younger person get up to allow an elderly woman to sit down. My companion commented that we are now the age of those to whom we used to give our seats.

I help a volunteer agency that wants me to contact other ministers and churches that might support their program. My efforts flounder when, without a title, church secretaries skillfully deflect my calls. A few even say, a bit disdainfully I felt, "And you are?"

As I waited for my luncheon companion the elevators released their human cargo, flooding the office-building lobby. Streaming around me chatting excitedly, the multitude of energetic bodies made me aware the current companions of my days are predominantly my age. Absent my job, I no longer am regularly in a working and conversational relationship with a full age spectrum.

Earlier in my life, as I observed the elderly, I often thought when I reached that age, I would not do many things elderly folk do. Now at that age, I find I am doing all that which I once disapproved and find it does not bother me a bit.

Still, it is the mental box of 'elderly' in which I find others putting me that is so wearisome. T. S. Eliot formulated that well in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

And I have known the eyes already, known them all -
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

So, I prefer not to again hear, "My, you're looking good." As a resolution for the new year, save it for the ex-hospitalized, formerly-heavy and newly-spectacularly-attired crowd.

--Robert H. Tucker
1 January 2001
© Robert H. Tucker, 2001.

Go to Mind Matters Table of Contents Page.

Go to Bob and Maggi Tucker's Homepage.