Developmental stages—a poem
People truck through phases.
Shakespeare, Erikson and Sheehan
all agree on that.
Young people rarely tell us
that they’re struggling
in the dark behind the mask:
we wish they would
but we recall that phase.
Mid-lifers needn’t justify
the writing class, the new career
the Ferrari in the drive:
we know that phase
we check it off.
But after that it’s all a mush
of ramps and mini-steps
young old and somewhat old
old old and frail old
and almost dead.
So just for now we’re baffled.
Until we get the hang of it
we oldish people have to think
the final quarter of our lives
because it’s genuinely new
new to us and new to you.
We have to train you
not to call us young
as if we should be flattered
as if that label didn’t make
the grave more stark
the complicated end of life
even more confusing.
Rachel McAlpine 2019
16 thoughts on “Developmental stages—a poem”
when a caregiver in the elders home calls me “young lady” I will know I am truly ancient. It is just insulting.
I hope you help raise their consciousness!
If and when I get there I will do my best.
Though we lump people together into amorphous groups at all stages of life, somehow sadly we seem to lose the sense of their individuality more with the old.
I think that’s true and is even stranger now that the “old” label covers 30 years or more.
Very true! My grandmother, who lived with us, lived to be nearly 102. I asked her once if she had ever felt she had it together. She hadn’t. Yet, she managed to muddle along, sail along or whatever it took. When I feel out of my depths, I always think back to the honesty of her answer.
Fabulous grandmother. Together? Me neither.
This sums up my ambivalent feelings about my advancing years!
It is weird, right? And more rich and poignant than all those cheerful cliches imply.
It’s “adorable” that gets to me.
It may soothe you to know that this word is used widely about people of all ages now. Unlike “feisty”.
That does help actually. I had been taking it personally. Or impersonally!
So true. We really are pioneers. I have always detested the use of “young” before an age. I think it sometimes is used to camouflage the fear of the person talking to us as opposed to speaking with us.
Well said. Thanks.