Many years ago, when my children were small, we sat at the dining room table carving pumpkins for Halloween. I looked at them and thought to myself "one of these days they won't be here to carve pumpkins and that is going to be a sad and lonely time."
Fast forward several years and as Halloween approached I thought to myself, "thank heavens I don't have to carve a pumpkin this year! " With a flash of intuition I remembered that earlier day and realized I had grown beyond pumpkins and it was OK. A new stage of life had emerged and it was not at all sad and lonely. My pumpkin theory is a life lesson: Stages that were once dreaded turn out to be happy, comfortable, and lots of fun.
Like death and childbirth, aging is something one can only understand when experiencing it. All the information in the world does not prepare you for the actual happening. The problem with so much of gerontological studies is that the true experts in gerontology, older adults, are not involved in the studying. What is important at age 30, 40, and 50 ceases to be of so much concern at age 60, 70, and 80.
As I approach my eighth decade of life I need to tell those of you who are struggling so hard to understand where I am (and where so many baby boomers will soon be) that aging is - similar to not carving pumpkins - OK. Losses that once would have been devastating to me are met with calm acceptance. Wild passion has matured to a comfortable and warm love. Friendships have deepened and are more valued because so many are now lost.
While becoming the oldest generation in the family is sobering, I realize that nothing is forever. Even death is no longer a frightening concept, because more loved ones are dead than alive.
Let older adults help with your studies. Don't be afraid, and don't worry about us too much. Remember the pumpkins.