When I was a teenager, my mother worked in nursing homes. One of those nursing homes was near Floydada High School, which had, to me, an odd system of quarterly and final exams. The exams lasted two hours and were staggered for different classes over several days. Kids with a grade average in a class of A or A+ were exempt from the exam for that class, which gave them two free hours to do as they pleased.
Not many teenagers had cars back then so those two hours were usually spent in the library, a study hall or just goofing around outside. Since the nursing home where mother worked was only a couple of blocks from the school, when I had those two prized hours free I would go to the nursing home and read to the residents.
Because of my exposure to those residents, I gained an understanding-I thought-of what it was like to age. I became a defender of senior citizens when I saw them being harassed on the bus, a helper when needed while shopping, an advocate to teach others what it was like to age and have vision and health issues.
About four years ago I was talking to a co-worker about this advocacy for the care and well-being of senior citizens. I remember starting to tell her that I would always have a soft spot for seniors. Then it hit me — I am now a senior citizen.
How odd that I would reach this stage of my life feeling that there was nobody to advocate for me.
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