Protecting the elderly

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As I was leaving the nursing home a few years back, I shook hands with an old man who pulled me towards him and pleaded, “Please, please, take me to Rollag!” Since it was Labor Day weekend, and the Steam Thresher’s Reunion was in full swing, I was tempted to load him up and go.

   But the old man’s son intervened, winked at me as if the old guy was a little daft, and scolded, “No, Dad, you know your heart can’t take a trip like that,” and dragged the old man back to his room.

   About six weeks later, I ran across the old man’s obituary. He died quietly between the stainless steel restraining bars of the bed. Of a heart attack. With his son nowhere near.  

   How much better for the old man if he would have been allowed the chance to drop dead next to a steamer at Rollag six weeks earlier!

   People who are protective of the old and say “they can’t take the trip,” aren’t doing the elderly any favors. What they fear is a scene. They don’t want to have to be around when somebody dies. They would rather have the death happen in a sterile room in a nursing home with professional medical personnel in attendance, preferably when they are out of town.

   What is ignored in all of this is the desire of most older people to die with their boots on, or as Winston Churchill would put it, “in harness.”  What is life worth if to preserve it you give up all that you love to do?

   Most would push forward with farming, golfing, walking, gardening, cooking, and life in general, despite the risks.

   It is the younger generations who wish to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible. They baby their elders out of what they see to be concern, but which may actually be a selfish desire to avoid either the trauma of death, or worse yet, the unpleasantness of being there when it happens.

   I’ll bet many older folks would appreciate it if we younger ones swallowed hard and let them wind things up however they wish, even if it might mean risking a scene at Rollag. 

 

Learn about Eric's latest book A Treasury of Old Souls. 

 

The above photo was taken by Eric overlooking the harbor in Napier, New Zealand. 

 

Golfing with Grandpa

 

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Late each summer while he was able, my Grandpa would take me on our annual golf outing. It was always an odd experience. Grandpa considered himself to be exempt from green fees. In lieu of payment, he would bring along his clippers and trim the trees on the fairways as we golfed. This slowed us down quite a bit. It also made quite a mess since Grandpa considered picking up the branches to be beneath us.

   Before we teed off, we each selected one club and left the rest in the trunk. Grandpa usually took an eight-iron.  Later on, my cousin Tom gave him a nine-wood for Christmas. I didn’t know there was such a club, but Grandpa thought it was great. It was the only club he used for the rest of his life.

   Grandpa was impatient with putting and considered a shot within three yards of the hole to be as good as in. He would pick up his ball and go trim trees while I chased my ball back and forth across the green.

   The most dramatic moment of our golf outings came when Grandpa parred hole number two in Fosston using his nine-wood. He must have been near eighty at the time. When the long putt went in, Grandpa threw back his head and laughed until he was red in the face.

   Grandpa usually tired out by hole number six and would stretch out under a tree while I golfed six and seven. Many golfers would stop to see if he needed medical attention. By the time I picked him up again, however, he was usually awake and delivering a lecture on trees complete with scripture references to a group of golfers, some interested, some not.

   After we finished, we always stopped at the Flapjack restaurant in McIntosh for pie, even if it was six o’clock in the evening. The pie made Grandpa feel even better, and he would start singing hymns out loud. This behavior puzzled other restaurant patrons, but nobody ever asked him to stop.

   As a teenager, these outings were an ordeal of embarrassment. Now, however, they are fun to look back upon. 

   For whatever reason, I haven’t golfed since.

 

Eric's new book A Treasury of Old Souls available here. 

 

 

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