Ever noticed how in Western societies us old folk are sort of ‘disappeared’ by the following generations? I am not talking about family (that is another discussion) but by society as a whole.
Being disappeared is not an event. More a process. One day one notices that people are looking past one or through one, but not AT one. Even though it has been a process, the realisation does come as something of a shock.
Obviously, it is not something that people do intentionally. It just happens. I am sure I used to do that too.
Some old people do get noticed!
Of course, there are exceptions that prove the rule. Old people get noticed. The richer the more the notice! Older women who consort with much younger men are much noticed. So too are much older men who consort with very much younger women. The record breakers, those who reach the age of 100 or more also tend to have their day in the spotlight.
But for most us, whether we achieved anything in our lives or not, we get disappeared by most people as we reach retirement and beyond.
The sadness of it all
It is all rather sad really. We have much to offer – knowledge, experience, history, stories to share and (possibly) to enrich the lives of others and help them on their way.
The realisation of the sadness of it all came too late for me.
My great-grandparents, my grandparents and my parents are all long dead. How I now wish I had taken the opportunity to speak to them about their lives and their parents’ lives. It would be like a journey back through time. A time before aeroplanes, trains, motor cars, before TV, before radio, when today’s big cities were like small towns.
Oh, to take that journey
It is a journey I would love to take today, as I try to piece together my family tree.
I remember visiting my English grandparents in Oxford in 1960 (when I was 19). They were determined to introduce me to all my old relatives, show me historic buildings, and tell me stories about how they danced in the streets at the end of WW2.
Boring! All I wanted was to meet the local girls and visits pubs that had a jukebox.
Footnote: Traditional societies the world over seem much wiser than modern societies and show much greater respect towards their elders. But this may be breaking down as the internet and Google (rather than the elders) becomes the source of all knowledge.