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John Braswell/Kawheeta

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Angry Old Men
By John Braswell/Kawheeta   
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2008

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Why are old men grumpy? There may not be a one-size-fits-all answer.

...

Angry Old Men

 

 

Why are old men always so grumpy?  I remember asking this question many years ago, and now that I live in that world, I can offer an answer.  However, I don't believe there is a single; one size fits all, answer.  There may be as many reasons as there are old men, but I will offer a few.

 

Man number one worked hard his whole life, remained faithful to his wife, and raised three kids putting two of them through college.  Needless to say, he is a very proud man.  Four months before he could retire with a full benefit package, life jumps up and slaps him square in the face.  One minute he is at work, on lunch break, and the next thing he knows, he is in an ambulance trying to tell some EMT kid to leave him alone. 

 

After a few days in the hospital, he is sent home to adjust to a life after stroke.  In this life, he cannot walk and is forced to use a wheelchair but has to be pushed everywhere because he also lost the use of one arm.   He can't complain though, at least not so anyone can understand, because one side of his mouth droops and is, for the most part, useless.  The tongue muscles are also affected to further complicate successful communication as well as creating eating and swallowing difficulties.  Getting into or out of bed, dressing or undressing, bathing, toileting, and a number of other normal activities of daily living, can no longer be done independently.  In less than one second, he had gone from fiercely independent to calmly dependant.

 

His wife tries to take care of him, but their home is not designed for wheelchair use and there are some doors he cannot fit through---the bathroom being the most important one.  She continues trying, doing her best, but alas, it simply is not good enough and finally she is forced to ask their kids for help.  All three said basically the same thing; they could not afford miss work to physically help, but they could help some financially. 

 

Rallying the family's resources, they are able to hire a person to help with his daily living needs.  All goes well at first, but then she starts missing things.  She thinks she is simply misplacing or forgetting where she put these things, but eventuality, the truth surfaces.  Unfortunately, not before several hundred dollars worth of items are gone forever, and some were irreplaceable family heirlooms.

 

Not one to give up easily, she hires another person, but this one does not show up for work often.  Determined to keep her husband at home with her, she tries a third person.  This time she goes through a home-health agency and pays a higher per-hour rate expecting to get a qualified person.  What she got was a middle-aged teenybopper with an alcohol problem.

 

Being a loving, caring, faithful wife, she continues doing the best that she can alone.  Now, less than a year after the stroke, her health is failing both physically and mentally.  Their family doctor sees it and explains there is no other recourse; a long-term care facility is necessary.  She is devastated and believes herself to be a failure, both as a wife and as a caregiver.

 

 

He is starting the final chapter in his book of life, in a place he does not know, and with people he does not trust.  He feels abandoned, thrown away like last weeks newspaper after being used to line the litter box.  Not by his wife, he knows she did her best, but by his ungrateful kids.  The same ones he had worked all the overtime to provide for, to pay for their first car, to educate them for a good start in life, and to help buy their first homes.  Why would they do this to him?

 

His room is located near the door used by the mortuaries to pick up the recently deceased. He sees every body that rolls past on the old gurney with one squeaky wheel, which is from one to three per day.  He lay in the old-style, hand-crank, hospital bed, and understands that every person there is awaiting their turn to die.  This forces him to face, and accept, his own mortality.

 

 

Ok, let's see:

 


  • His pride suffers a very hard blow (looses some)

  • He looses his main retirement package by four months

  • He looses his independence

  • He looses his home

  • He has destroyed his wife's self-esteem

  • He feels abandoned

  • He is forced to rely on people he does not know or trust

  • He looses the remainder of his pride

  • He is forced to face his own mortality

 

 

Yep, he might be angry

 

 

 

John Braswell2008


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Reviewed by Kalikiano Kalei 1/25/2008
Interesting topic. My own take on the question is that to a large degree it is a broad sense of disallusionment with life, a keen feeling of lost promise, and profound disappointment in humanity that creates the bitterness, cynicism and free-floating anger that we often characterise as 'grumpiness' in older men. The longer one lives, the more opportunity one has to experience the disappointments, misplaced faith, failed trust, and betrayed ideals of a lifetime that can result in this bitterness you discuss. By the time one is an 'older' person, one has seen so much of this in one's life that it may be overwhelming. Further, as age progresses, one becomes less strong and more physically infirm. When the psychological fatigue of many years of unpleasant experience is factored into the formula, the combination of these influences may largely create this state you refer to. I know for a fact that the more reflectively intelligent a person is, the more fatigued one can become as a result of witnessing the profound failure of ideals over a lifetime. Many older individuals who are especially intelligent and sensitive often get to a point where they almost welcome death, or look forward to it, as a refuge from this accumulation of bitter disappointments with their lives. Enjoyed your observations and comments. Thanks for sharing.
Mahalo, K2
Reviewed by S. Thompson 1/25/2008
A good article but very sad. I'm at middle age myself and hope and pray this is not my future or anyone else's.
Reviewed by Staci Gansky-Wagner 1/23/2008
Many people live this life. Many people will live this life they just don't know it yet. After visiting a nursing home this week, I now see it. Not much to look forward to if one gets ill.
Reviewed by Doris Cropp (Reader) 1/22/2008
Angry Old Men is a very good article. I can see how it is true.

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