How many of you have that moment you realize that something significant about you has changed? I’ve been experiencing that moment over and over lately and am not quite sure how to make it stop or even what is the cause.
I’ve always had a mental image of myself as a twenty-something – still young and not at all concerned with getting older. I’m still not worried about the getting older part, because my view has always been that if I am lucky to keep living, aging is inevitable. What hits me lately is the rest of the world is beginning to recognize me as either elderly or infirm -neither of which do I normally feel or identify with.
The young people where I work are usually oblivious to the next person to walk through that door they just opened, but in the past year they have been stopping and holding the doors open for me. In the past few months there have even been these young’uns coming back to the door that has already closed, just to open it for me. I would like to attribute it to their parents and raising polite children with great manners, but on further observation I don’t see them holding the door for their peers or other elders.
This phenomenon also happens in public spots – people are holding doors and stepping aside to let me pass. At the grocery, or in the mall or other spots where people gather, I am the one others not only hold the door for but also insist I get in front of them in the line. They are also prone to give me their shopping cart and yielding to me as I walk through the parking lot so I no longer have to play Frogger, dodging for my safety across the lines of moving traffic to get inside.
I would love to blame these unexpected acts of kindness on my husband who is six years older than me, and has had silver hued hair since his early thirties. My hair color has remained unchanged, largely thanks to the wonders of home chemistry and self-applied coloring, so my grays are not giving away my age and making me look decrepit. This also happens to me when he is not along, so alas, he is not the catalyst.
These days I do walk a bit slower, but I am definitely not shuffling to get from point A to point B. My stride could be better but I don’t walk with the lurching action of Quasimodo, at least not on my good days. My cane is almost always resting safely in my car and is rarely used unless I am traveling in places with long stretches of walking, such as the airport or an outdoor venue. I almost always greet others with a pleasant demeanor and not a grimace, which might convey I am in distress.
So I want to ask – is there some type of signal that those of us with Multiple Sclerosis put off that indicates our infirmities and weaknesses and draws this attention? If I were a creature in the wild, would I put off signs to the vultures that they should begin circling? Or do I just happen to regularly encounter strangers who like to practice random acts of kindness? Maybe it’s just because I live in the Midwest, in a state who has the slogan ‘the heart of it all.’
Even though I shudder when others say it to me, I am usually of the mind that I must look so good until I get these subtle reminders otherwise from strangers with good intentions.
Wishing you well,