I had my first taste of independence when I was allowed to spend summer vacation in our ancestral house in San Pedro, Laguna. It was the residence of my lolo and lola, both in their mid 50s.
It was also my first encounter, up close, with the elderly. I had a sheltered life like that of Gautama (before he was known as Buddha) who was also isolated by his parents from reality. Like him, I never knew what sickness was all about, what death was, what old age meant.
As soon as I joined my grandparents on the table for meal, I asked my lolo how old was he. He replied “I am 54 years old young man.” I remembered my response was “Ohhh, no wonder your skin is wrinkled, you had thick eyeglasses, your body is stooped and had difficulty breathing.” I saw in their reaction some kind of entertainment. Probably they were thinking that I grew up in Mars!
I never had a good sleep that day. I was asking myself how come there are old people and what made them old in the first place.
Right in their living room were stacks of photo album and I saw my father as toddler and how my grandparents looked like in their prime. My childhood impression was marked with superstitious concepts based on imagination. I thought that living in their house makes one gets older. I thought that spending a time in their house would likewise make me mature overnight. I thought that right after my summer vacation I would return to my parental enclave as an elderly already!
Well, it never happened that way. Actually, I came back to the embrace of my parents after a brief period with a pair of good sneakers courtesy of my tightwad grandparents. But the thought of getting old never departed my consciousness. I had these nagging mental episodes that ageing makes a person weak and vulnerable, prone to depression, too serious and has forgotten laughter. My grandparents were so sober that everything I would hear from them was a litany of lessons in life that I must reckon. It is as if they were teaching me not to explore life, not to commit to adventure because I would merely encounter problems and that I must sit down reviewing life safely on their laps.
Years passed by and the memories of staying with my grannies were like spending a few days and nights in the school campus.
Years later and as I sat down to contemplate on life, I came to a realisation that at my age, I have already transgressed that period when I had my first vacation with my grandparents. Like them, I have grown old already. I had my fair share of gray hair, blurred vision and physical vulnerabilities. My only advantage was technology. My grandparents lived manually and were over stressed to determine what went on in the neighbourhood. In my case, life is assisted by automatic means and the world can be accessed digitally and in high definition. No wonder, I never have forgotten to laugh and nearly deleted the term depression from my system. Nonetheless, we looked similarly from the standpoint of physicality.
Well, everybody will eventually reach their twilight years and probably one day, science would be able to preserve thoughts and translate these in a continuous fashion much like books, which have been regularly annotated for purposes of updating. Except that death will be pushed aside and immortality will become the order of the day.
This generation may not be a witness of this development but we have made this as prognosis based on facts and not through fiction.
Ageing will soon be an issue of the past.