Wise Aging Stories

Jeff Greendorfer

I had the pleasure of being the only male in a group of about nine wonderful, humorous, thoughtful, articulate and engaging women.  They graciously accepted me as their equal. And I thank them very much for that.

So one of the many revelations that struck me during our Wise Aging journey had to do with the notion of interdependence meaning a mutual dependent relationship. In contrast, so many of us see ourselves as independent, self-sufficient, and able to adequately manage our own lives in most every situation. And at the same time, we have lovingly given aid and support to our parents, spouses, children and others whenever we were able and fortunate to do so.

And when we did that, we felt good about doing it. In a way, it was a gift that we were bestowing on each of them. We were depending on them to accept our loving care, affection and support. It was gratifying to give in this special and extraordinary manner.

Yet when pain, injury, illness or incapacitation befalls any of us, we often resist help or assistance. We feel we don’t want to be dependent or a burden on our friends or our loved ones with having to deal with care for us, however temporary or minimal it might be.

But when we generously allow, permit, even invite others to “lend us a hand”, even an emotional hand when the going gets a little tough, we are in fact many times not burdening them at all. We are actually giving them the loving gift of giving.

The giver is getting great satisfaction and gratification by doing so and of course the “givee”, the recipient, is getting satisfaction, comfort, gratification, dependability and of course, the assistance that may be so dearly needed.

When both parties do this openly, freely and lovingly it is, one of the most precious gifts of interdependence or mutual dependence that they give to each other. They are literally depending on each other … one for the assistance that is being received and accepted  and one for the blessing of being permitted to provide that assistance, be it physical assistance, financial or even emotional assistance.

I hope that if I ever find the need for that type of comfort, care and assistance, that I will have the good sense not to feel like I am “burdening” anyone, but instead permitting, depending, and allowing them the benefit of providing me the love, care, attention and assistance that it has been my blessing to give to others during my life.

Madelon VanLier

A lot of wisdom was shared by the facilitators and members of my Wise Aging grop. Age is a state of mind, and I learned that I should not regret growing old as it is a privilege denied many.

I look forwared to a better tomorrow, and do not wax nostalgic about the past, thinking that everything was better then, because actually some of it was, but some if it was not. Certainly, my physical body was more flexible, by my life experiences were far fewer.

I made some key decisions as a result of enrolling in the Wise Aging course and highly reocmmend it to those of you who are thinking about retiring from work and getting more involved with Rodef Sholom and other important organizations—but stop themselves because they somehow think they have little to offer. I made that mistake, and wish to undo it! Yes—admit my past mistakes and change course.

Engagement is the key, and I have learned to break down some of my personal barriers, and make my voice heard along with the others. I always prided myself in being fiercely independent, but have recently learned just how dependent I am and how much I wish to be more engaged with this community.

I really feel, from the bottom of my heart, that this Rodef Sholom congregation is a unique and progressive one, with places where we all can fit in, young old, single, divorced, or married, and that is a major shift in my thinking that happened while taking this Wise Aging course. Additionally, the timing of this course conicided with my partial retirement from work. Confronting my mortality straight on without as much fear, I finally came to realize that I cannot take my wealth with me to the grave. I hope to enjoy some travel and fun, but also made some significant plans to leave it to meaningful organizations like Rodef Sholom rather than the tax collectors.

Now that is wisdom.