Before I begin let me warn you that this is going to be a rant. Ever since we first heard the terms Corona Virus and Novel Covid-19 and the media, social and otherwise, have been filled with information and misinformation about this scourge, I keep hearing the phrase "just older people" crop up in conversation. As in: "the virus only seems to be adversely affecting older people; or "just" older people have complications from this virus, or "just" older people are dying from Covid.
I heard it again last night in casual conversation with a long-time friend out on my own porch (social-distancing, of course). And each time I hear a younger person insensitively toss about that phrase I'm sure that steam begins surging out of my ears as I sit quietly fuming.
Lately, I have been speaking up instead of biting my tongue and feeling my shoulders tense up, because, people, I am one of those old people and I refuse to believe that my life and the lives of many of my friends are expendable. I'm here to tell you now that most of us, though retired from the daily grind of a job, are, never the less, still valuable, contributing and even necessary members of this world! Even my oldest friend, at 84, still volunteers regularly at the local hospital during times when there is no pandemic threat.
We old people do more than just spoil our grandchildren, bake cookies and sit around and crochet cute toilet tissue covers.
Speaking for myself, in addition to running the business side of our small alpaca farm, I do all of my own laundry and house cleaning. I paint any of the rooms in my home that are in need of a more long term clean up. Although retired from teaching for the past seven years, I am still teaching in a different capacity when I am able to see people in person. I teach people about our animals during in person farm tours, which we still are able to do in nice weather because the large area of our pastures allow for social distancing. I teach young people how to spin alpaca fiber into yarn and how to hand dye and then knit that yarn into soft, warm garments. Because I am fortunate to have been on this planet for quite a number of years, some of them pretty rough and many more quite happy, I am able to offer advice to many young people who seek me out for that purpose. I like to think that young people whom I have taught in the classroom and have become friends long after they were out of school have stayed in touch with me both on social media and in person visits are still learning from our conversations. I have offered support, both financial and emotional, to many younger people that I call friends. I may even have saved a valuable young life or two along the way. Or just given hope to those in despair by telling bits of my own story and encouraging them to hang on because it does get better.
None of this is heroic. It's just what older folks do. These simple, natural actions that we older people never think twice about doing, add so much to the lives of younger people and to the world. I have so many fond memories of my grandparents and the unconditional love they gave me and the gentle lessons that they taught me just be spending time with me. It would be difficult to imagine what my life would have been like without that precious time that I spent with them.
So, please, the next time you're having that casual conversation about Covid, stop and think before you carelessly utter the phrase, "JUST older people." Think for a second about what you're actually saying. Do you really mean that this world would be better off without older people?
I say, proudly, that I am "JUST" an older person and my life is not only, not expendable, but adds considerable value to this world.
Post Script: Wearing a mask is a minor inconvenience. That small scrap of material, worn properly over the mouth and nose, protects other people. It's not a loss of personal freedom to be considerate of others. It's a thoughtful and polite thing to do. RESPECT!