Advanced age should be appreciated

We met her about 10 years ago, and even at the time, we knew she would be a part of our lives for years to come — at least we certainly hoped she would.

During these past years, we have gone on many holidays together, and attended many events with each other.

As with any friend, we also went through some rough times together. Like the time we were to travel to Saskatchewan for a short vacation, and the day before we left, she developed a serious breathing problem, and she had to spend a day in the hospital.

Apparently, she was not getting enough oxygen, so they dealt with that and we were able to leave the next day. Off we went and we were able to have a good week away.

As the years went on, we grew closer and closer, and soon, we were inseparable. Our respect for her increased almost daily as she proved herself so extremely reliable and very easy to be with.

Even though she was older and very grey, we were often amazed by her energy, and at times, would laughingly call her the ever-ready bunny. Even our children enjoyed her company while they still lived at home, so in that respect, she was indeed a good family friend.

The breathing problem reoccurred, but amazingly, she pulled through. The other times we had to help was in the purchase of new shoes — she needed good ones, and they were quite expensive, but it was our joy to be able to help.

Then, over the past six to eight months, she began to struggle in different ways, although we encouraged her by trying to provide whatever she needed — sometimes, with even just a gentle touch or a loving pat.

She continued to degenerate until finally, last Friday, she died. After all these years of loving care, our 2000 Nissan gave up, thereby ending a friendship that had lasted for 10 years. Maxine will be a part of our memories for a long time.

I have been questioned many times about our devotion to Maxine; suggestions, although not verbalized, but implied, that maybe I was involved in a fatal attraction. But few people realized just how much a part of our lives she had become.

With age working against her, we knew that at one point, it would be too expensive to keep her going when her resale value was so low.

So now it’s off to look for a younger model, and this of course, got me thinking about how we treat people as they age.

Often, we hear the complaint from a 55-plus person, who due to economics, has lost their employment, about some prospective employer’s attitudes toward age when they meet them.

What employers don’t often appreciate, is that with age comes experience, and usually, a greater reliability. Even that, at times, is not enough to overcome the employer’s fear of age.

Through our time with Maxine, we learned to appreciate the fact that even though it would cost a little, her reliability was not to be sloughed off. There was plenty of energetic life left.

Likewise, it can be with people who have many years and experience behind them. Adding to the experience and reliability is the prospect of an employer having a new and lasting friend.

I may be strange in my approach to this, but the comparisons are too obvious to miss. In the case of a car, good as it may be, there comes a time when repairs are no longer viable, but should we really treat people the same?

Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with a concern for the downtrodden.

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