What Should a Ninety-Year-Old Take to a Nursing Home?
A couple of years ago I was getting my hair cut when an elderly woman came into the salon with her caretaker. After a shampoo, the pensioner eased into the chair at the station next to mine with a loud sigh.
"Happy Birthday, Mrs. Jane Doe!" The young stylist chirped in her most fake-cheerful voice. "How does it feel to be treated to a day of pampering for your special day? Do you have any advice on life for us 20-somethings?"
The elderly woman clamped her lips in a tight line, narrowed her eyes, and glared in the large mirror at her stylist.
"Well, girly," she said, "let me tell you how it feels. It feels like hell! I have bladder problems, arthritis, a bad ticker, and--if you believe my good-for-nothing, money-grubbing relatives--dementia. My husband and close friends are dead. My house and everything in it, things I spent a lifetime collecting, have been sold. I'm living in a nursing home with a bunch of old people. How do you think I feel?"
The salon was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Her stylist was poised with a brush in one hand and a hair dryer in the other; speechless.
"Advice?" she said. "My advice to young whippersnappers like you is to forget about buying a bunch of stuff and filling your world with things. Instead, you should collect all the memories you can."
Mrs. Doe gave me a sidelong glance and winked as if we senior citizens had a secret that isn't revealed until after you reach a certain age.
"Memories," she repeated as she held my gaze. "Make a lot of them. No one can take those away from you."
I smiled at her and dipped my head in a brief nod of agreement. It's true, so many people don't realize what is most important as they travel life's road to old age. It's only after they arrive that it becomes so very clear.
If you were given $5,000 and told you couldn't keep the money, you had to spend it on something frivolous (not bills or appliances) within the year, what would you do with it? Would you buy something tangible or would you take a trip with someone you love and build some memories?