Ask Paul B: Left for Dead

Dear Paul B,

I am turning 49 this year, and starting to feel my years. I come from a large extended family (21 Aunts and Uncles plus 43 cousins.) The older ones are beginning to fail and several have passed in the past 5 years or so. We are all very close, and they have always shared in our “mitzvahs” and naturally our losses. I am married to a woman who despises the aged, and has “no use for them” when they can no longer function to perfection. I know that she sees her own mortality when we visit them, but how can someone be so cold when she will one day (if she is lucky) be there herself? I am embarrassed by her conduct and mortified when she won’t even stay more than 40 minutes at a function attended by “too many seniors.” What can I do?

Artie

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Dear Artie,

There are many people who share this “trait,” and it is clearly their fear of losing their looks, and looking the part of a senior. I for one am looking forward to this, because it sure beats the heck out of the alternative. So many of us are living into our 70’s, 80’s and 90’s that everywhere you turn, you’ll see a senior walking slowly or bearing the wear and tear of 80 years. Walkers, hearing aids, a care-giver, wheel chairs, wrinkles and gray hair are all representative of that “end is near” syndrome. As we all know, there are those who look at the water half full, half empty, but there is a third choice- I hate water, period! I don’t know if there is anything that you can say or do that will change her bleak and hurtful attitude, but you must impress upon her that you are hurt by her visible disdain and rejection of your senior family members. You may have to enroll her in acting classes, but you should also seek out a professional to discuss her “fears” so that she can come to grips with life. I wish you both peace and happiness.

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