The Truth About Independence

I was at Whole Foods and among my shopping, I grabbed a salad and decided to eat it there. I was almost finished when a well-starched, dapper man sits down beside me and introduces himself …

Hi, where are you from originally? What state? My name is Don, I’m from Wisconsin, I’m 84.

How old are you?

How many kids do you have?  I have 4 boys and 4 girls from my first marriage.

Are you still married? Why not?

You have a nice smile. I have Alzheimer’s. Do you know what Alzheimer’s is?

And on and on I was peppered with questions fast and flurry, reminiscent of how a small child would ask anything and everything that comes to mind without concern for what is considered a polite vs intrusive question of a stranger.

There was also a litany of what he couldn’t do anymore, among them: drive himself, take care of the finances, grocery shopping, go fishing, etc.

Trying to be encouraging, I tell him, “My dad is 88 and still enjoys fishing, perhaps you could still go with supervision of one of your 8 children.”

“No, no, it is too dangerous,” he replies.

I ask what he has planned for his 4th of July.

He responds, “I don’t know, when is that?”

“Today,” I tell him.

Among a host of run on sentences, he tells me that he hopes he doesn’t live to be 88, he doesn’t want to be a burden to his second wife.

When she comes through the checkout line, he is excited to introduce us, she is not so interested. She provides a forced smile and they move on.

And I am left to process the meaning and messages behind our encounter.

1. The similarities of small children and aging adults who no longer have the responsibilities of everyday life concerns.

Don was happy, eager, and firing questions at me faster than he even cared to hear the answer. Are we so consumed and burdened with adulting that we lose our childlike wonder and adventure? Can we get it back by simply living in the moment and not worrying about our To Do list?

2. How I was similar to his wife with initial disinterest as when Don first opened his mouth, I was thinking, “what does this guy want from me?”

It took me a moment to realize I was not in a hurry, had nowhere in particular I needed to be, and why not make friends with the stranger sitting next to me.

You never know how the conversation may inspire me and/or how I could positively impact someone else’s day.

3. What difference does it make if something is dangerous if it brings you joy, adventure and connection with others?

Especially if you are hoping you do not live too much longer and become a burden to others. Why not push the envelope and see what you are capable of doing? I had a friend in his 70’s pass away recently of cancer, who was an amazing golfer in his day, yet gave it up when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, despite my encouragement and sending him articles on research studies that showed how beneficial riding a bike and golfing were for keeping Parkinson’s from progressing.

One month before he passed another friend convinced him to go golfing together and the friend was blown away by how good he still was. It makes me sad to think about all the years he went without his beloved sport because he bought into the belief he couldn’t do it anymore.

4. The hard truth on the rise of Alzheimer’s (currently affects about 5.4 million Americans, expected to reach 14 million by 2050), now dubbed Diabetes III, due to its link to inflammation and high blood sugar levels. I did a 5 day sugar cleanse 10 years ago which totally changed the way I feel and my relationship with food. Since then, I have helped hundreds of others stabilize their blood sugar and end their sugar addiction with way more ease than ever imagined. Send me a note through Contact Me, if you would like my help.

Here is to creating a life you love,