Age Really Is “Just A Number” For Some People. This Man is One of Them.
Sometimes you meet someone who completely blows you away, just by being who they are.
I had one of these encounters this week, and I’m still thinking about it. I just can’t get it out of my mind.
I spent the last two days in Toronto, helping a friend move his dad into another apartment. I didn’t know what to expect walking into it. I hadn’t asked many questions at all, partly because there hadn’t been time, and partly because I didn’t really need to know. All I needed to know were the dates, the time, and how I was getting there or where I was to meet them.
When my friend told me we were moving his dad, in my head I assumed that it was because he was going into a home of some sort, or at the very least an assisted living apartment style-type place. I half went into this thinking it was going to be a relatively straightforward, easy move, because that’s what my friend had expected.
The Chaos is Revealed
When we arrived, though, we quickly discovered that it was not going to be either of those things. Instead, it was clearly going to be chaotic, disorganized, and busy.
The amount of stuff that was not packed and scattered everywhere as opposed to packed and ready to go was staggering. When I first walked in, this realization hit me like a ton of bricks. All in an instant, our timeline of “a few hours” had vanished, and what seemed like it would call for an all-nighter had appeared.
Once I digested the reality of the situation, though, something else stunned me.
It was my friend’s father.
I had expected to see an old, frail man with limited mobility. I had expected that he wouldn’t be of much help in the move. I didn’t actually know if he’d be there at all. I figured that maybe we’d just be doing it, and then picking him up when we’d got everything moved and taking him over to the new place.
The man was 89 after all.
A Surprise Awaits
However, the man that I met when I walked through that door was anything but what I had envisioned in my mind.
He was spry, quick, welcoming, and seemed to know exactly what was going on. He’d been expecting us, he said, and called us all by name and chatted about the drive and the weather before getting the process started with us.
He seemed to bounce around the condo, packing things and moving things around with the best of us. I never saw him stumble or sit down once, let alone take any kind of a break.
It was chaos for the next two days. His kids were throwing questions at him constantly, asking him what this was and where that was going and if he was keeping this or throwing it out. He answered each one to the best of his ability before moving on to the next.
Even though there was a crew of people coming in and out of his condo constantly, with everyone fighting for his attention and bombarding him with decision points, he didn’t seem phased. He handled each inquiry like a pro before bounding off to finish whatever task he’d been working on before the question arose, or he’d skip off to another room to make a phone call he needed to make.
I watched him in awe.
My past experience with 89-year-olds has led me to believe that most are glued to a t.v. somewhere, hardly mobile enough to even get up and walk around their nursing home room.
A Fresh Perspective
But this encounter shattered that belief. It really made me reflect on all the concepts I have around aging, replacing the images in my head with the reality of the situation in front of me.
Here was an “old” man by society’s standards, offering to help carry heavy boxes and load totes onto the waiting dollies and carts as he happily chats away to you.
He still drives his own car and remembers a room full of people’s names even when they’re all crowding into his new apartment space that’s been jammed full during the move.
You could easily be fooled into thinking he’s 70.
This man was nothing like what I had imagined.
On the way home, I learned that he still goes to the ballet and the opera, and likes to experience the culture that living in the city affords him. He’s also still very into photography, and has a room in his new place that he’ll likely use primarily for all his photography equipment and collections.
For this man, it seemed that his age really is just a number, and nothing more. It doesn’t stop him from going where he pleases, doing what he enjoys, spending time with the people he loves, and living a quality life in a place that interests him.
Living A Good Life
While we never know what our future holds, or what challenges may lay ahead for us down the road, my encounter with this man had inspired me.
He was truly amazing.
I left there wondering why my 89 couldn’t look like this, rather than the vision of frailty and immobility that had implanted itself in my mind a long time ago.
It was clear to me that if my life could resemble his in any way when I reach his age, I’ll have lived a good, full life.
Have you ever had an encounter with someone that changed your perspective and made you question your beliefs? I’d love to hear from you!
Share your experience below.