Old age and youth

Everything that begins will surely end. That is an indisputable fact of living. All of us were born into our bodies some time ago, and some time ahead our bodies will surely die. In between birth and death we go through many periods where our bodies change slowly but imperceptibly. Youth and old age are but two of the distinct periods that many of us go through, the exceptions being the ones who die before they can complete the normal course of living.

The differences between youth and old age are obvious. A young man is usually full of vigor and energy. His body is in its prime and he can do anything that requires physical strength easily. Usually youth is the time when young men and women look the most attractive. Their skin shines with the glow of life. They are drawn to each other and eventually pair off to produce children of their own. They are full of hope for a wonderful life together. They laugh, sing and seek all sorts of things to enjoy themselves with.

Old age is a totally different matter. An old person no longer possesses the vigor and energy of youth. Physical exertion is out of the question. Even climbing the stairs can be impossible. Wrinkles and age-spots ravage the once-smooth skin. The glow of life is gone and the body is no longer attractive. In fact it can even appear repulsive. The magnetic attraction for the opposite sex fades, memory fails, and possibly senility sets in. For most old people laughter is rare and hopes are dashed. The future is only the grave.

Examples of these vast different between youth and old age are my grandparents. I had, on occasions, gone through the family album. Inside the album, in black and white prints are photographs of my grandparents. My grandfather was a handsome young man and my grandmother was not unlike the many pretty girls I meet on the street. I am sure my grandfather was a strong man judging by his considerable muscles in the photographs. Grandmother’s skin was smooth and fair.

That was many years ago. My grandfather is already in his grave and my grandmother is in her late seventies. I remember just before he died a few years back, he was a bent old man withered with age. He could not walk after having a stroke. He either lay in bed or had to be pushed around in a wheelchair. It was quite unbelievable that the handsome young man in the photograph became helpless cripple. Time really changes everything.

My grandmother is still living, but what a hellish life it is for her. She has become what we might call senile. She cannot remember simple things like where she left her comb. Also she gets upset because she knows she cannot remember and keep saying how useless she is now. We, the younger ones, try to help her as much as we can, but she, despite being old, is very stubborn. Sometimes she does remember bits and pieces of things but she cannot put them in any logical order. This adds to her confusion. All we can do is to attend to her daily needs and keep an eye on her so that she does not endanger herself. Sometimes I wonder how such a pretty young lady could turn into such a helpless old woman. Again time changes everything.

In my youth then, I see that I am headed for old age. If I live to see my old age, I would not like to end up like my grandparents. However I do not know if this is for me to choose or not. Only time will tell.

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