“Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?” 2 Kings 19:13
As we grow a little older, we must learn to get used to being forgotten and being ignored. Old folks are invisible people.
I am becoming more and more invisible even within my own family. I have often found myself puzzled by my children’s conversation over the dinner table, for they seem to speak at lightning speed.
“Dad, you speak so slowly,” one of my sons complained, as if that were the main reason why he doesn’t like to listen to my discourses that often run too long and are pretty boring.
I can still envision my late father-in-law straining his eyes at the dinner table, trying in vain to follow the conversations of his grandchildren. While the rest of the people were laughing and having fun, he and grandma just sat there in silence. They were the ones who were supposed to be honored, yet they seemed to have lost the privilege of participating in what was going on during the meal time simply because of the fact that they had lagged behind in keeping up with the pop culture of the day and their slowness of hearing.
“Did grandma join in with the family for a meal today?” I often ask my wife, who routinely spends about an hour everyday speaking to her elderly mother over the phone, and the response to my inquiry has mostly been negative. My mother-in-law spends the bulk of her day sitting in her own room, listening to CD’s and watching television. She is well cared for by her loved ones, but is mostly forgotten by the world.
Even though I have long past my prime, I still feel the same physically and mentally, yet people have started to look past me, not at me, and I have learned to be very discreet when I look at people, particularly young women, for fear of being labeled as a “dirty old man.” I have slowly, but surely, adjusted to my advanced age, and think and act in accordance with how and what others perceive me - an old man to be tolerated occasionally and mostly to be ignored.
Even my moaning and groaning about aging and being forgotten may become offensive to the young and vibrant. I am merely stating a reality that all people, be they princes or peasants, will experience sooner or later in their lives. Does it bring a deep sigh from all of us when we read Shelley’s poem?
“’My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
Indeed, no matter who we are, nothing will remain after our passing except our dry bones and our names in the lengthy genealogy of our families. If this being the case, why do we still take our worldly fame so seriously and our heavenly fortune so very lightly?