Surely, our development follows an arc. We germinate, bud, and blossom; we may produce wonderful fruit along the way. We have many productive seasons. Then slowly we whither; our flexible stems turning woody. Fresh flowers find second beauty as dried arrangements; eventually we will all enrich the soil in some manner.
Who tells us what to expect along the way? When we are young, there are a variety of local guides: elementary schools, cub scouts and brownies, 4-H, Future Farmers of America, boy scouts, girl scouts, sea scouts, Key Clubs, Future Business Leaders of America, ROTC, Outward Bound – you name it, there’s a preparatory organization.
But what happens when you are old – and getting older? Who are your role models, teachers, and guides?
I’m thinking that we have an untapped resource — our nonagenarians. After all, these are the folks who are scouts ranging along the untamed wilderness of Age. They are the folks who are experiencing the changes we only anticipating. I propose we start an organization called the Age-Rangers!
Within this cohort, recognition is given to those who have achieved certain milestones: knee replacement, well there’s a merit badge for that! Dental implants, new hips, kidney stones, cataracts, prostate cancer, spinal stenosis – they’ve survived them all. These should be our go-to consultants.
Wisdom gained by absorbing the slings and arrows of life’s surprises, our nono’s have seen it all. Been there, done that – and still remember a good deal of it. Who better to be in focus groups with younger oldies to shed light on what’s to come?
I think uniforms would be tacky, but perhaps a copper and gold bracelet would be in order – to commemorate elite level life skills as well as an amulet against arthritis. We might launch a social media presence dedicated to graceful maturation (“The Age Spot”?) and how-to publications designed to help our younger oldies (e.g., Pruning, and Other Laxative Strategies; Raising Cane – And Lowering Cane, etc.). Don’t forget our bumper sticker: Who’s Your Granddaddy?
It’s great to have a little fun with the idea, but in all sincerity, nona’s would make wonderful mentors. The discourse and recognition allow the appropriate respect that the elderly deserve for navigating the Scylla and Charybdis of life’s waters, while at the same time providing some comfort to younger seniors: that while much has diminished, much also remains.
N.B.: Since the artificial intelligence app, Chat GPT has been the focus of a lot of articles and commentary, we decided to try it out. Hen has added a rejoinder of his own, but also one from Chat GPT. Here’s a poem written by Chat:
On Achieving Ninety – A Poem by Chat GPT
Ninety years of life, a journey long and bright,
A tapestry of memories, woven with delight,
Each thread a story, each color a hue,
A masterpiece of moments, shared with me and you.
Through times of joy and times of sorrow,
You’ve faced them all, without a hint of tomorrow,
With grace and dignity, you’ve navigated life,
A shining example, of how to live it right.
Ninety years of laughter, love, and light,
A treasure trove of wisdom, shining so bright,
Each day a new adventure, waiting to unfold,
With every step you take, a story to be told.
As we celebrate this milestone, let us raise a cheer,
For all the joys and blessings that you’ve brought us near,
Ninety years of life, a true testament of time,
A legacy of love, that forever will shine.
On the Birth of Age Rangers
Wal temps us with a futuristic venue for evolving seniors to receive beneficial guidance from thoughtful and experienced elders. After all, he argues, we provide coaching, training, and “how to” instruction from childhood through adulthood; why stop at the geriatric stage? I agree!
While living in the nuclear family, we are given direction and ideas about what to expect as we age, from parents, scout leaders, and teachers. Most of them, however, haven’t yet experienced their senior years. And, by the time they do, we are old enough to move away and are on our own: often guiding others younger than ourselves. Our “life-learning” training is cut short and becomes incomplete as we leave the role of student learning from those who came before us to that of teaching those who follow. Perhaps, this would not be the case if we remained living in community with our families and were exposed to the day-to-day stories, experiences, and behaviors of our elders as well as our parents and children. However, in most of the cases I’m familiar with, this is no longer the case. So, we aging citizens fumble forward, making our way as best we can with limited resources, fading memories of the experiences of our grandparents, and whatever advice finds its way to our anxious questions about what to expect next.
But wait! Here comes Wal to our rescue! The Age Rangers, masked or unmasked, ride into our lives with knowledge and wisdom gained from experiences we’ve yet to encounter. Surely, the physical issues, conditions, and limitations to follow, can be explained from their first hand dealings. Helpful! But there’s more. What if, they could guide us toward a shift in how we think about aging? What if those who used the time they found in their latter years to understand how to let go of those things that cause us unnecessary anxiety, pain, and suffering, could share these learnings with us. What if they could guide us toward a more gentle and freer life in our golden years? What wouldn’t we give for signing up for that course? Can you imagine the energy as we sit together listening to our elders once again, sifting through our experiences, asking and answering the questions we were never asked, we never asked, or never made time to consider?
Sign me up!
“It’s been true in my life that when I’ve needed a mentor, the right person shows up.”
– Ken Blanchard
From Hen: The following was written by a newly tested artificial intelligence, Chat GPT with only a few guiding words from me on “Age Rangers.” It was written in less than a minute with no further input after my first few prompts. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
In a world that often prizes youth and beauty over wisdom and experience, it’s easy to forget that there is much to be gained from the insights of our elders. That’s where Age Rangers come in. This organization of wise elders serves as mentors and coaches to younger senior citizens, providing guidance and support as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of aging.
The Age Rangers are a diverse group of individuals, all over the age of 75, who have lived rich and varied lives. They come from different backgrounds and walks of life, but they share a common passion for helping others. They are trained to offer guidance and advice on everything from health and wellness to financial planning and retirement.
For younger seniors who may be struggling with the realities of aging, the Age Rangers can be an invaluable resource. They offer a sympathetic ear, a wealth of knowledge, and a deep understanding of what it’s like to grow old. They provide a safe space for younger seniors to talk about their fears and concerns, and offer practical advice on how to address the challenges of aging.
The Age Rangers also serve as role models for younger seniors, demonstrating that growing old doesn’t mean giving up on life. They are living proof that it’s possible to age with grace and dignity, and that there is much to be gained from a life well-lived.
But the benefits of the Age Rangers program extend beyond the individual seniors who participate. By bringing together younger and older seniors, the program helps to build stronger, more connected communities. It fosters a sense of intergenerational respect and understanding, and helps to bridge the gap between different age groups.
In a world that often seems focused on the next big thing, the Age Rangers remind us of the value of experience and wisdom. They offer a reminder that growing old is a journey worth taking, and that there is much to be gained from the guidance and support of our elders. For younger seniors looking for a way to navigate the challenges of aging, the Age Rangers are a valuable resource, and a shining example of what it means to age with dignity and grace.
“Age Rangers pave the path and light the way for the newly emerging senior citizens, showing them that age is not a limit but a badge of honor, and that with experience comes wisdom and the power to live life to the fullest.”
The Lone Age Ranger
I love Wally’s idea of Age Rangers! Boy, could I use a few of them now. I imagine the requirement for membership into the club consists of blood pressure above a certain number, several joints disfigured from arthritis, late night reflux requiring antacids in the night table drawer and several post-midnight excursions to the lavatory nightly. What I wouldn’t give to have a personal sponsor in this club to talk to about what to expect. Everything was fine ‘til I turned 70! I was feeling good and active and hadn’t experienced any of the symptoms that come with elderhood. I was feeling lonely because with the passing of my brother several years before I had become the sole elder of the family which had shrunk over the years from a large Italian family with siblings, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles and even a grandparent or two. Everyone who I depended on for advice, encouragement and empathy had passed and that big family had shrunk to me and my two children. Nobody had my back. There was nobody I could consult when my kids came to me with their problems, so I had to wing everything and pray that somehow I had absorbed enough knowledge and life experience to advise them with an assurance I never really felt.
Along with age is supposed to come wisdom and patience. Unfortunately, confidence doesn’t seem to tag along and with no one to consult on a personal basis, misguided advice and poor judgment can seep into the psyche and lead you on the wrong path to problem resolution for yourself and those depending on you. As my 70’s progressed I began to experience symptoms that come with advanced age. The first experience I had that took me to the ER was two clogged arteries and as I was being rushed up via ambulance to the heart center in Albany. I just kept imagining that I was on an adventure and tried to think of it as an experience over which I had no control and I would observe it from afar. They installed 2 stents to allow the blood to flow again and less than 8 hours later I was back home and trying to adjust. 2 months later my dog alerted me to a problem with my neck that I mentioned to my cardiologist who then did an ultra sound of my carotid artery to discover a 99% blockage. The next week I was on to my next adventure. They scraped my carotid artery clean, a procedure you are awake for the entire time and once again I imagined myself on another adventure and that actually worked well for me for those two procedures. Hopefully my adventure days are over for a long time! But with no one to commiserate with about what happened I just clung to my adventure fantasy and slowly recuperated from both procedures!
The interesting thing though about Age Rangers is I should have taken advantage of my 3 elderly aunts and my brother to ask a million questions about what their lives were like, and general information about our family history and what life was like in the old country. I feel like I missed out on a piece of my history that I never thought to research until it was too late. I kind of feel like the Lone Age Ranger now because no one is recruiting me to pledge this important society. But that also is a part of my personal history- always a day late and a penny short! I will have to continue to stumble alone through these incredibly lonely years. I believe that is why dogs were invented!
4 thoughts on “Age Rangers”
“I believe that is why dogs were invented.” Absolutely.
I couldn’t agree with you more. For two weeks, every night when we went to bed he would cuddle up and lick my neck on the right side. It wasn’t just licking, it was intense and constant. I had always heard stories about dogs being able to detect illness so I asked at my next cardiologist appointment and he didn’t think it was anything cause he always checked my carotid artery, but he was going to do an ultra sound of my stents so he said he would check the artery as well. Bingo! This little guy also got me through covid without my going nuts. Actually, I guess there are many reasons why dogs were invented!
Beautiful story and great outcome. Thank you for sharing. Our pups are very attentive when we are not feeling well. My wife and I have passed that 70 mark, and our first dogs are 2 and 3 years old. Our time together will be without grandchildren, and surprisingly the joint responsibility of the two dogs has enhanced our own loving relationship. Those dogs care just as much for us as we do for them. Absolutely, dogs were invented for a reason, and one of those reasons is crystal clear to me.
After I sold the inn and moved back to NY, I wanted to get a dog. All my life we had dogs til we bought the inn. So now back near my kids but living alone for the first time ever I wanted a dog. I registered with all the sites and because of my age they gave me a hard time about getting a puppy. After months on line going to all these meet the puppy events, nothing. I had a lot of left over quilts from the inn I decided to donate to the local SPCA. I had been approved there months earlier but they didn’t get many puppies. While I was dropping off the quilts I just happened to ask if they had any and it turned out they just gotten a mother and three pups from Tennessee the day before. They had been in a fire and each had some damage. I asked to see them and went into the cage room and sat on the floor and they released all 3 puppies. This one guy came right over to me and jumped in my lap. Part of his left ear was burnt off and scarred. The rest is history. Not sure who saved whom, but what a great match! He has just added so much to my life! Hold those guys near and they will orotect you with their lives!
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