I recently finished a book by Aaron Clarey titled, Bachelor Pad Economics.
Filled with useful information on life, finances, women, and the virtue of having a motorcycle, the one thing stuck in my mind weeks later was this: The only thing that matters in this world is other people.
It’s a simple truth, yet, seemingly distant from the reality most of us (I’m guilty) live in.
We stress out over our jobs, focus on the drama happening in Washington or the latest celebrity gossip; but when was the last time you called your fricken grandparents?
To capture the moment, to live here–right now, and meditate on your mortality, how many of us take the time to do engage in this type of higher level thinking?
Your parents, your siblings, even your dog–all gone someday. I’d lost a bit of perspective around this fact, until recently…
Assisted Living Homes: Where People Go to Die
I’ve always felt uncomfortable walking around an “assisted living” facility. Half the people are crazy, the other half just old. I feel terrible for those who still have their wits being forced to live among the senile; there seems to be a real injustice there.
On a recent trip to Nebraska, I visited with my grandmother in her old folks’ home. I hadn’t seen her in many years and wasn’t sure what to expect.
After punching in the keycode and walking through the security doors (old people gotta be contained), I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
The home was nice. A product of wealthy Jewish benefactors, this was the Rolls Royce of old folks’ homes.
As I walked towards my grandmother, I worried she wouldn’t remember me. I was told her memory was bad. I expected the worst.
As I approached her, she greeted me with, “Seneca, you’ve gotten old.” Caught somewhere between laughter and relief, I cracked a large smile. “Phew… She remembers me.”
Lunch and Last Goodbyes
I had the “lunch special” with granny. It was prime rib atop of toast. I poured a small serving of aus jus onto my toast. “Not bad for an old folks’ place,” I thought.
One of the residents at the table next to us was rambling something unintelligible and making weird sounds. I put more aus jus on my toast and pretended not to notice. “Thank god for the aus jus, just keep dipping. Nothing weird about this at all” I thought.
After our meal, we made our way to granny’s room. I told her I was moving to California. And, in typical fashion, was scolded with, “Why would you want to do that? That’s a mistake.” After explaining why I was making the move multiple times (her memory was slipping), our time came to an end.
After being offloaded from the wheelchair and onto her bed, I bent down to give her a goodbye hug.
And that’s when she smacked me with something that will haunt me forever: “This is probably the last time I’ll see you.”
I was caught off guard. “No!” I said. I’ll come back soon.” I meant what I said, but also realized I hadn’t made the best effort to see her over the years.
This ate me up on my flight to California. I felt a combination of embarrassment, shame, and inspiration all wrapped up into one nice big shit sandwich. I’ll take that with extra aus jus, thank you.
Chasing success, personal freedom, money, whatever–it’s all meaningless without other people to share it with.
Reach out to your loved ones, they are the only thing that matter in this world.