Ann Keiffer

Old People

Now that we live in a retirement
community, we’re often asked,
Doesn’t it bother you living in a
place with all those old people?

We see these old people every day…
–of which we are two, by the way–
out on the trails or sidewalks each
morning, fitness walking with their
dogs or their spouses, a few running,
some race-walking, some walking
with walkers or canes, and some
just sitting on benches, watching.

We see these old people every day…
at the gym, on treadmills, bikes and
ellipticals, lifting weights, working
with trainers, swimming, dancing,
doing yoga and water aerobics, some
exercising in chairs to stay a bit fit,
a few showing up at the gym even
when an attendant has to drive them
there, wheel them in, hang onto their
belts and spot them, and some only
able to exercise the option of how
to spend the hour or day befoe them.

We see these old people every day…
fierce at it in games of tennis, golf,
pickle ball, mahjong, ping pong,
pool and chess. We see them pit-
firing ceramics, painting, making
jewelry, woodworking, gardening,
involved with family and friends,
writing, discussing books, arguing
politics, watching out for neighbors,
protesting, tutoring, volunteering,
taking trips, turning out for concerts,
movies, speakers and plays…but all
go from go-go, to slow-go, to no-go.

We see these old people every day…
facing life as it slowly, inevitably
and naturally comes undone. We see
them riding the river of life to the
limits of their abilities, through
passages perilous as class 5 white
water all the way to the dwindling
end of the journey, coming to rest
in a dry river bed or a silent pool.

No, it doesn’t bother us to live
with all these old people.
They’re showing us how it’s done.

Ann Keiffer
May, 2016

Image credit:
Custom kayak built by David Bahnson


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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