CAREGIVING AND TMS This is another installment in help for caregivers dealing with seniors and those who may be in “The September Song” of their life. My friend Avis Carlson wrote in her 1977 book, In the Fullness of Time, when she was in her 80s, that there are some blessings to being old. Caregivers and those in their senior years might enjoy or find her thoughts useful. Avis says that if the senior person wishes, they are excused from a good many social demands. Grandma is not expected to keep up with every fashion. When spike heels are in style, no one expects her to wear them, even if she could stand or walk in them. If a person over 65 wishes, they can sit at home and watch television and no one will criticize them, or shouldn’t. But if they want to return to school and get a high school diploma, some people will applaud them. If an older person decides to try a new hobby such as painting, it’s preferable that they have some prior experience. Grandma Moses had some with pen and brush before she became world famous for her folk paintings. Some seniors go to college to get a degree years after having graduated from high school. An example is a retired railway ticket agent who at the age of 71 enrolled as a freshman at a university two years after retiring and the death of his wife. “I didn’t want to sit down, dry, and blow away,” he said. Here are headlines about some senior citizens who started new careers at advanced ages: Florida businessman, 57, starts work on a law degree. Great grandmother, 67, becomes New Jersey college freshman. New co-ed at Salt Lake City college is 82. Long Island woman, 63, begins study to be a doctor. Avis says, “In advanced age, as in all other periods of life, much depends on our attitude toward ourselves.” She writes that she lived the life of a middle-class housewife and community worker in southern Kansas and had been through 1930s Great Depression, two World Wars, a Cold War, Korea and Vietnam wars, electronic inventions, jet engines, nuclear energy, antibiotics, and many other innovations, and is ready for whatever comes next. “By the time we are seventy, we know that most of our dreams are not going to be realized. The pain of failure has long since been absorbed, and let’s face it, the memory of the dreams have become a delicious part of a past that contained some thoroughly undelicious items. “We can now feel toward those unrealized dreams much as we feel toward our first love, which no matter how unsubstantial is now recollected with tender affection for the immature self of that day. Then life was a tray of candies. Now we know that right alongside the sweets are potions bitter as gall. “Life has pounded into us the knowledge that there are no times and no places where one can live without distress. Then when we ran into trouble we thought it to be temporary, just a short run of bad luck. Now we know that all through life good and bad luck are interwoven. Now we know that William Blake was speaking truth in a triplet, short on poetry but very long on verity: Man was made for joy and woe; And when this we rightly know Through the world we safely go. “If there is such a quality as the ‘serenity of old age,’ I suspect it derives in good part from having shed many of our illusions. It’s a painful, but very freeing, process.” Walt: My mother, who died at age 94, said that the worst thing about being in a nursing home was that there was no one to play pinochle with. She said here mother’s favorite song was “Among My Souvenirs, whose words went, “There’s nothing left for me, of days that used to me; I live in memory, among my souvenirs.” Let’s hope we all l have happy memories among our souvenirs. Perhaps share this with, or read it do, a senior in your life or care. I’ll post another episode from Avis’ book soon. Meanwhile, maybe do what I did, ask your mother or other senior citizens in your life or care to sit for an interview and videotape as they tell about their life. The person will love the attention of the interview and you will have a cherished memory to share with your children or grandchildren.