Thursday, September 15, 2016


In the sunset of our lives, many of us wonder about
the nature of the blessing of long life.

Now that I have cable television once again, I have been exposed to much more of the latest "news." Mostly, I keep the TV on EWTN, the wonderful Catholic station that Mother Angelica manifested during her fascinating time on earth. God bless the old gal, I feel that surely she must be having a wonderful time in heaven, gazing on the beauty of the Lord, and probably saying to herself, "I knew it would be good, but this is sumthin' else! WOW!"

Mother Angelica in 1999

I am not always prepared to pray the rosary or some chaplet or other, so, when EWTN pickings are slim, I generally slide over to a news station. Likewise, when I wake in the middle of the night and cannot sleep. Now, it has been quite a few years since I had the full smorgasbord of news nosh. I knew it would be dreadful, but this is sumthin' else! WOW.

Donald Trump is appearing on the Dr. Oz show, of all venues, and providing letters from a doctor about his health, and Hilary Clinton has provided reports to the media about her "fitness" for duty as president. I am flabbergasted. What does this have to do with running the country? We have had quite a number of noteworthy presidents who were also suffering from grave illnesses. They ran the country from a wheelchair when they had to do it.

What IS this obsession with physical health all about? As one news pundit remarked last night, "That's not the part of a candidate we care about." Obviously, we don't want the new president to drop dead three days after being sworn in. It would be inconvenient, but we DO have remedies set in place for such a thing.

If Donald Trump were to become elected, he would be the oldest person ever to be made president. THAT'S the issue, of course.

When I was much younger, I remember my father continually complaining about how the movie industry doesn't want anything to do with you if you are over 40. He was experiencing a downturn in popularity and a lot of difficulty finding work. He'd been the golden boy in his youth and had a legion of sycophants populating his life, mostly of the gold-digger variety, except for one very nice woman who broke up with him when he refused to marry her because she had children and he wasn't interested in family life.  In his declining years, he was furious that the world no longer treated him like a God.

I see a little of this in Donald Trump. He is trying to use the currency of youth during his dotage, relying upon brash hyperbole that probably looked cute on him when he was young and stylish. Half the population isn't having it. They see an old guy with a comb over, whose operating principle seems to be, "vote for me, I'm special, only I can get the job done...because I'm special." So, they humiliate him and the opposition by making AGE an issue, covertly. As we age, the body breaks down. It's natural. Thus, the issue of "health." It is a tactic meant to highlight the age question.

Here in America, and probably elsewhere in the world, youth reigns supreme. The older you get, the less respect you garner from the world at large. We don't like old people. My apartment manager doesn't like us because we are "too much trouble." Employers don't like us because we can't physically handle the plethora of sometimes useless physical exertions for problems that could be solved better by a good mind sitting behind a desk.

Complex negotiations could easily be done by phone whilst reclining in bed, and I have no doubt that this has gone on during other presidencies.

In other cultures, the wisdom of age is respected. We could learn from these cultures, except that, in many cases, we have handed the reins over to young people who don't have the wisdom to seek counsel from those who've spent more time engaging the world than the young.

Being the oddball that I am, I have always liked old people, and was always thrilled to accept invitations from my Grammy who lived in San Francisco for the last 40 years of her life or so. I loved her stories and I loved doing things with her, and I just loved her in general. My sibling avoided having to spend time with her, having an aversion to the elderly.

I will not be voting for Donald Trump, not because of his health or his age, but because of what comes out of his mouth. Likewise, I will not be voting for Hilary, because of what comes out of HER mouth. The American Solidarity Party, the only party that has a platform based entirely on Catholic social teaching, has my vote. I don't agree with all of their interpretations of that teaching, but I won't be embarrassed to have voted for their candidate, Mike Maturen.

Some people tell me that if I vote for someone other than a Republican or a Democrat, I am "handing" the election over to some odious person. I can't speak for the rest of the Christian world, but I am no longer satisfied with voting for the lesser of two evils. I don't want to vote for any kind of evil at all. My choice has nothing to do with a candidate's health or age, or the odds of who will win or any poll that is taken. I plan to vote for the man whose beliefs jive closest with the Catholic Church's social teachings.

UPDATE: After writing this blog post, I had an experience while grocery shopping that perfectly illustrates at least part of the problem with ageism in our country.

Due to asthma and wide ranging allergies, I have to be careful what I eat, and I must avoid pesticides. Even the wonderful lemonaide at Golden Pride (a locally-owned New Mexican restaurant) is now off limits because the last time I drank it, I broke out in hives, itched furiously all day, and had an asthma attack.

At any rate, this requires that I purchase many items at health food stores. I generally try to avoid LA MONTANITA CO-OP, which is very close to me, because their prices are too high and their refrigeration is sometimes iffy. Also, they leave items on the shelf too long and I have had some bad experiences with moldy cheeses and stale bread. Sometimes I find myself shopping at LA MONTANITA CO-OP, however, if there is no food in the house and I feel I can't make the long drive to SPROUTS, which has excellent fruits and vegetables and fairly decent prices.

Today, when I was checking out, the checker, a tall young man, was exceedingly rude to me. He gave me a hard time about packing the bags lightly, with a disrespectful, snotty attitude. I asked to speak to his manager. He continued to speak to me as if I was beneath pond scum, while at the same time pushing his face into mine from above and smirking at me.  When I finally told him he was being rude, he said, "I'm sorry if you think I'm being rude," with another smarmy smile on his face.

Saying that you are sorry if someone THINKS you are being rude is an obvious verbal slap. He couldn't care less what I thought. He appeared to be enjoying baiting me, and continued to make snotty comments.

The whole circus devolved from that point. The manager finally appeared. Half her head was shaved. The other half was sticking out of her scalp as if she'd just been hit by lightning. A very large "earring" plug that looked like a black lightning bolt was sticking out of each side of her ear lobe.

The manager said she'd never had a complaint about that clerk before. CLEARLY she didn't care that a customer was visibly upset and HAD a legitimate complaint. A young customer came from another line to insert herself into something that was not her business and said that he'd never been rude to HER either. I told her to mind her own businesses, then the manager told me not to speak to one of her customers like that and, I looked at her and shrieked, "I'M one of your customers!"

Maybe, in the mind of the lightning-zapped manager, I was NOT actually one of her customers because she relates to the young and hip. That's her demographic, and she probably doesn't realize that all these annoying old people that disturb her world view are a sizable portion of shoppers these days. Many of us were raised during the move back toward natural foods.

I looked around the room. Here I was, surrounded by the young and hip (or those simply TRYING to look young and hip.) Weird makeup, body modifications, various stages of get the picture.

Melt-down was halted and I exited. I simply realized that I was in the wrong place. Here I was, dressed modestly head to toe in a DRESS, with a long jacket over it. As usual, I was wearing my St. Olga's Cross and a few religious medals. I am old and I use a cane.

I had no reason to expect to be treated with good customer service. In fact, this is the same store I wrote about a long time ago in which a young vigorous employee had parked her car in one of two handicapped spots for the day. I called the police and she was ticketed. The store's response? They removed one of the two handicapped spots in front of their store. I had forgotten about that until today.

I won't be shopping at that store again, and I will be advising all of my elderly and disabled friends to STAY AWAY. They don't want our business anyway.

On the way home, it occurred to me that venturing out of the hermitage by myself has become more and more dangerous over time. I am not worried about Donald Trump's health or age. The rich have servants to do their shopping and errands. I am worried about the elderly and disabled who routinely get treated with contempt by store clerks and other people whose job is supposed to entail SERVICE but who treat us as if we work for them.

Customarily, in days gone by, hermits and other contemplative monastics have raised their own food, for the most part. It is a wonderful practice. I can't do that, however, being too old and too disabled.

Silver Rose Parnell
(c) copyright 2016, all rights reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment