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Entering the Twilight Zone

Posted on March 25, 2012 | No Comments on Entering the Twilight Zone

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity of meeting a long lost friend. He is already in his mid-40s.”I am now married,” he told me. “I have two children and one is going to graduate next year. I feel very old now.”¬†On the contrary, my father is in his late 60s now. But he never considers himself old.”‘ am still young” he said.”It’s as if only yesterday that I married your mother and you came along.”

In 1828, Noah Webster did not define age as something to do with the calendar or the number of birthday a person celebrates. Old was defined as something that has “outgrown usefulness.” It is also something that belongs to the past; shabby; stale. Young, on the other hand, is defined as something that is “youthfully fresh in body or mind or feeling.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked, “We don’t count a man’s years until he has nothing else left to count”And that’s what the Old Testament hero Caleb thought. At the age of 85, he asked that he be given the mountaintop where the giants were. He believed he could get rid of them, and he said that he felt as vigorous and healthy as he had at age forty.

As German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was approaching 90, he was given a physical examination. Afterwards, the doctor gave him some advice on his health and lifestyle. As he kept talking, the chancellor became impatient. “I’m not a magician, sir,” protested the doctor.”I cannot make you young again.”

“I haven’t asked you to make me younger,” Adenauer answered.”All I want is to go on getting older.”

With old age comes retirement. However, some people can’t simply retire. At 99, classical pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowki recorded a new album. At 94, American comedian George Burns performed at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady, New York-63 years after he first played there. At 87, Mary Baker Eddy founded the Christian Science Monitor. Winston Churchill became prime minister at 81.

It’s never too old to go back to school. At 81, Jacob Blitzstein of Los Angeles graduated from high school. At 88, Doris Eaton Travis graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in history.

“If retirement is a part of your future, no matter how far in the future it may be, plan now to retire not from something but to something. It’s a state of mind, and there are extra years of zest ahead” Betty Zachow said.

With retirement, also comes Alzheimer’s disease. For over 50 years, however, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s were thought to be a normal part of aging, and a true disease only in people who had it before age 65. Those sufferers represent five to seven percent of cases. They have familial Alzheimer’s, according to Dr. Jack Diamond, scientific director for the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

“There is an increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease as one gets older” said Dr. Marcos Ong, a neurologist and psychiatrist at the Brokenshire Hospital in Davao City.”Don’t delay; getting early diagnosis and going public with the disease is really, really innportant”said Lorna Drew Ferrari, who co-wrote the book, Different Minds with her husband who suffered from the disease.”There is nothing to be ashamed of,” said Ferrari.

Don’t be ashamed of getting older, too. It’s part of the growing process. As such, experts urge that older people should be optimists instead of being pessimists. Christian D. Larsen said: “Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet. To make your friends feel that there is something good in them. To look at the sunny side ofeverything and make your optimism come true.

“To think only of the best, to work only for the best and expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic of the success of others as you are about your own. To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times, and give every living creature you meet a smile.

“To give so much time for the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. To be large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.”

Whether that someone you dearly loved is still young or getting older, tell him now what you want to say. Give him what you want to give. Say those words you have been longing to say. Don’t wait for tomorrow. What if tomorrow never comes? What if you will depart from this world tomorrow? Or, he will no longer be around the following day?

Read the poem written by Dr. Antonio C. Oposa, the first and only Filipino chief resident in general vascular and thoracic surgery at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and ponder: “I would rather have one little rose from the garden of a friend than the choicest of flowers, when my stay on earth has come to an end. I would rather have a pleasant word in kindness said to me than flattery, when my heart is still and my life has ceased to be.

“I would rather have a loving smile from friends I know are true than tears shed around my casket when to this I bid adieu. Give me flowers today, whether pink or white or red. I would rather have one blossom now than a truckload when I am dead.”

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