Growing Old in Newburyport, MA

I never would have imagined my father’s death, and the last weeks of his life would affect me the way it has.

Yesterday, for the first time in two and a half months, I sat down in front of my easel and painted. And it was a relief.

It won’t last, but like Spring, for me, it was a sign of hope.

Having watched the last five and a half years of “my” senior’s life, I have become passionate about having a place for seniors in Newburyport, MA, that house all the necessary services and activities, as well as making sure that the Director of the Newburyport Council on Aging, who works 24/7 is adequately financially compensated.

And as one of my favorite seniors in Newburyport (not my father) put it, “Mary, there’s nothing ‘golden’ about the ‘golden years.’ The ‘golden years’ suck.”

As a society, we seem to focus, guided by “Madison Avenue,” as they used to say, on “youth.”

Old age appears to be an anathema to the advertising agencies, and we as a society appear to have little tolerance, for the process of aging and the inevitability of death. And for goodness sakes, forget the wisdom and knowledge of our elders. Who has time for that, when in a “Paris Hilton world,” the “flash and gash” have so much more appeal.

I got news for everybody, the ones who are “lucky” enough, will get their “golden” years, and they are going to be just as “sucky” as they were for my Newburyport friend.

And for those people who think that they might not need the services of the Newburyport Council on Aging, collected in the same place, listen carefully, and respectfully to the “process of old age,” because that would be your old age as well.

And for those people who feel that they are wealthy enough, well educated enough to feel that they would not need the services of the Newburyport Council on Aging, congregated in the same place, I’ve got news for you. In life there are no guarantees. There are no sure bets. Period.

And for those out there who might not think that having the services of the Newburyport Council on Aging all in one place, might not be a good idea, I’ve got more news for you–it is not and it will not be “all about you.” The people who are around you, if you are lucky enough to grow older, will need support and education and just plain old help, in helping you with the “sucky” process of growing old.

Am I pissed about all the dithering about where and how to house the services provided by the Newburyport Council on Aging and the lack of respect and support by so many people in Newburyport, MA? Yup, you bet I am. As they say in New York, for goodness sakes, “get off the shtik.”

Mary Eaton