I call them "My Ancients." They are old to very old. Most of them are black. All of them can remember riding in horse and wagons. A lot of them worked in the fields when they were younger. They knew poverty, they rarely made it past 5th grade. They came from large families. They are a dying breed. They are "My Ancients."
I want to periodically reference their stories and share a little of the humor, a little of the pathos that you find in nursing homes with a medicare/medicaid population. I look at them and I know, unless I die relatively young, I could be sharing a room, sharing a closet with other "ancients."
I was chatting with "Johnnie Mae."
Me: "Johnnie Mae. How many children did you have?"
J.M. "I had 12 children." [a huge shock moment for me]
Me: "12?" [incredulously]
"Yes 12" responds Johnnie Mae
Me: "Well are they still alive?"
J.M. "Only two; the other two died?
Me: "I thought you said you had 12 children."
J.M. "I did. The rest of them were born dead!"
The conversation carried no pain, no agony over children lost, dreams crushed, hopes dashed. Johnnie Mae's lived a long time now. She's known a lot of death. She sits in her chair (minus her legs - diabetes) and watches T.V. without paying any attention to it. She appears to be content. Time, many decades of time, have eased the pain and buried the sorrow and sadness.
Is Johnnie Mae worried about dying? No, at this age they just worry about physical discomfort. She remembers 12 births but the searing sorrow over the 8 still-births is no more.