The vocation of aging
The beginning a “new old life” (or an “old-new life,” take your pick) in an assisted living facility in Florida
I was asked to write a column about what it means for me to have left behind New York City after 39 years to begin a “new old life” (or an “old-new life,” take your pick) in an assisted living facility in Florida this past February.
It hasn’t been easy. New York opened many doors for me. It was difficult to leave the place where I had a career I loved in journalism, and where I had friends and family, enemies and lovers, haters and admirers, that is, the place where I was able to lead a full life.
It hasn’t been easy also because, as a poem I wrote some time ago says, “No es fácil envejecer sin vocación de anciano” (it is not easy to grow old without a vocation for being old.)
Even at a ripe 79 years, I still don’t have “vocación de anciano.” Actually, my mind is boiling with projects, plans, and ideas, some of which will, with a little luck, be fulfilled, but others will not because of the unavoidable limitations imposed on our bodies by the passing of time.
Which is why I decided to enter this new stage of my life and move to a place where needing a wheelchair or help to get on and off your bed was not strange or a burden on friends and family.
Luckily, The Palace Gardens, in Homestead, FL. the facility I now share with about 200 other elderly men and women, is outstanding. What makes it so is not so much the beautiful building and the great food, but the people who work here, mostly immigrant women whose care, patience, and compassion makes the transition to the life of the elderly much easier.
Of course, the fact I still write a column for Al Día News and am working on a second book of poetry also helps. It means that it wasn’t my whole life what I left behind when I moved to Florida. I am still a writer very much in tune with reality, with the terrible times we are living through, the seemingly never-ending pandemic, and Donald Trump who without a doubt, has earned the title of the worst president in U.S. history.
Do I miss New York? Of course, I do, so much so that sometimes it hurts. Do I want to go back? No, I don’t, this is who I am right now: I’m getting the care I need as an old man. And as long I remain above ground I intend to be involved, active and productive. After all, as someone said, youth is wasted on the young.