We all want to live longer and younger, but none of us wants to age. If you’re the one aging, move over, no one seems to want you.
I’m in my 60’s. I didn’t realize how many examples of “age racism” and “the new old” I could and would bump into in just 24 hours.
Mark drove us to midtown Austin. We just got the patent on our drug to treat difficult to heal wounds.
We work with Dr. Jack Moncrief. Dr. Moncrief is honored as one of the seven men who have made kidney medicine what it is today. He directed a dialysis center for 40 years and co-invented home dialysis. He conceived telemedicine and signed the bill with Bush.
The office we met at had changed.
“Why the move, Jack?”
“They felt I was too old to be a director anymore.”
Dr. M. radiates strength. He married his high school sweet heart several years ago and still looks like a man on a honeymoon.
“I learn something new about age daily,” Dr. M said.
“I had a new patient, an 89-year old woman. As usual I asked, ‘So what’d your mother die of?’
“Die?” She’s not dead!”
“She’s 107. She walks, gardens and reads to kids. She’s fine.”
Dr. M said, “Please, bring your mom at your next appointment.”
Six weeks later in walked two old but healthy women. There’s not much difference in appearance between someone in their late 80’s and someone over 100 if they’re basically “healthy.”
“Aging is changing,” Jack drawled. “More of us are doing it. But not getting respect.”
“One of my patients is 77. Got diagnosed with two cancers. He asked his oncologist what were his chances of beating them. The smug oncologist said, “Don’t you think it’s time to throw in the towel, that enough’s enough?”
The very doctor he was going to, to try to save his life, wasn’t sure his life was worth saving!
We left and those words rang in my head.
We drove past a sign for the Dry Creek Café’. A Texas hole in the wall.
We bought beer and got ourselves koozies out of a pile on a broken table. We tread up the outdoor staircase on to the old terrace looking out over the lake.
A group of young men sat at old wood tables, enjoying the sunset.
Right out of the shoot, they and Mark slid into a dialogue; how today’s a woman’s world, and only the bitchy women who control their men are the ladies who get their men. “But,” they laughed as they toasted their koozies, “All men certainly like their women young!”
“Take Hollywood. I was just there,” yapped one. “It looks like men who go back to nursing homes at night are out for dinner with Barbie dolls.”
Those words rang in my head as I drove to Dallas Night Club later that night. After 35 years, it was closing. An Austin icon honkytonk. Close to a thousand of us, many of us over 60 and even 70, danced till closing at 2 AM.
Dancers live longer.
A girlfriend of mine had two aunts, both healthy till almost 100 years old. One danced. A lot. She only died because a train hit her. Her family laughed that it took a train to take her out. The other was famous for saying, “And that’s that.” She simply didn’t stress. When her husband, whom she loved, was hit by a car and died, she sighed, “And that’s that.”
Perspective. Longer time on this planet births a larger, global picture, if one has intention and health to see it. Older people are remarkable chroniclers for perspective and wisdom. They have lived to tell their stories. And understand them.
I remember a sign on a building in Santa Fe that sums up my thinking: remembering the past preserves your future.
I have actively sought out older wiser mentors. I hung with the Nearings, who I met while in their 80’s and stayed close up till Scott fasted himself peacefully to death when he turned 100, as he felt he was no longer a contributing member of society. They wrote the introduction to my second book “The Foot Book.”
I hung with Bucky Fuller when he was in his 80’s. I lived with Swami Satchitananda in his 70’s. I did my 1st rotation in integrative medicine with Dr. Jonathan Wright, the father of bioidentical hormones. He and his wife recently bought a $3.5 million building and opened a new clinic. They’re both closing in on 80! I got to work and hang with environmental scientists at the estrogen think tank at Tulane. We threw a 70th surprise birthday for my mentor, John McLachlan PhD. I had worked one week out of each month for 6 years with Dr. Jerome Block, learning from his 55-years of functional internal acute and chronic care medicine.
Two years back I took a relicensing course with the neuro-surgeon turned nutritional doc; Norm Shealy MD PhD. He gifted the conception, land and buildings for a new genre in psych called “Conscious Psychology.” Shealy is going strong in inspiration and creation. He is 84 years young.
We are the NEW OLD.
Hopefully you’re coming our way.
Move aside for the fastest growing global group.
Be open to what you might learn when you get here, which is just around life’s corner.