In 1988 an invitation was extended in the newspaper Especially for Seniors to compose 500 words on what it means to be a senior. Sixty two of those essays were published in a book called “Are You Listening?” This is one of the essays that touched me. If you ever want to read the book, just give me a call.
I am a senior citizen, but, as well, I am a person – the product of heredity, environment and of all the events of my life. The happiness, sorrows, achievements and disappointments have given me the ability to see life with a clarity of perception and appreciation not possible 50 years ago. The beauty of a sunset, the flash of a hummingbird poised over a flower or the smile of a child can move me to tears. But, on the other hand, the slights or hurts, real or imagined can wound more deeply than ever. I love this beautiful world and have compassion for its under-privileged, perhaps because I remember the years of Depression. I am, though widowed, fortunate to be in my own home, to drive my car and be able to travel. My life might be compared to a river flowing along smoothly but with undercurrents below the surface. The future, in my view, holds great promise. Everywhere I see goodness and kindness, especially in time of need. Our young people are enterprising, imaginative and innovative far beyond my generation. Of course, their education and opportunities exceed ours in the same proportion, or so we like to think. As the eddies surface on the river, so, in the silence of the night or in the darkest hours before the dawn, a thought emerges in my mind. “I love this world but I must leave it – perhaps soon.” But I have lived and loved. I have children and grandchildren of whom I am very proud. Somewhere along the way I must have done some good or left a pleasant memory. If so, I have not lived in vain. (Gladys Atkins)