As of late, Tony has been wearing earphones around the house as he practices his French. Consequently, I've been having a lot of conversations with myself. He tries his hardest to be attentive, often yanking the earphones off his head and asking "What?"
Most of the time, what I say is not worth repeating; it's more that I vocalize what I'm thinking and I'm just my own sounding board. I see this new condition (Tony's inability to hear me because of his earphones) as a way to adjust to growing old. I also see that when our senses decline, eyesight and hearing, we need to sharpen our other senses--or rather our consciousness of one another.
A long time ago, BC (before children), we were water skiing on Lake Mead with my father and sister. At day's end we were crawling along at wake speed when we spotted a man treading in the water. Unsure of his state, filled with questions, we stopped and pulled him aboard. He didn't speak. When we docked, he pulled himself from the boat and walked away.
When we were almost ready to go, the man returned with his wife and another couple all of whom were well over 70 years old. The man had gotten his strength back and wanted to thank us and explain his situation.
He been drowning and was too tired to speak or move; he was too exhausted to call for help. That we saw him and pulled him aboard, saved his life. The couples had been boating and the man we had helped had fallen off the back of the boat. The others were unaware of his disappearance, until they returned to shore and saw he was missing. Perhaps their aged hearing and seeing had kept them from awareness, but the man's near drowning happened because they were not conscious of each other.
I've heard often that old age is the return to infancy. I remember the days when my child alert antennae was always on and sending out and receiving messages: where are the children and what are they doing? Consciousness and awareness of these little people under my protection ran high. I couldn't and didn't protect them from everything, but I tried.
I will never forget the aged man we pulled out of the lake, his friends, and their unawareness as to his whereabouts. I also realize that whereabouts doesn't refer only to location and the aged. It's where we and other people are at in all aspects of life: happiness, financial situations, health and emotional needs, etc.
But how can we do it all, or help without being overwhelmed by all the people who need help? The answer as well as the question comes from the drowning man. We weren't even aware of his dire situation, but we were conscious of him and acted. Simply pulled him out of the water. Even though he was wearing a life jacket and he was so close to the shore, we sensed his needs. We didn't realize such a simple act was saving a man's life. To not be overwhelmed we must be aware and simply do.