Here's something we all know if we think about it, but we probably never think about it. (I guess being forced to watch "The Notebook" was what triggered it for me).
Walking along South Kihei Road recently, I casually noticed an elderly couple in front of me, ever so slowly heading back to their vacation rental. They were both hunched over a bit and moving very carefully--stopping at each driveway entrance, cautiously looking both ways with almost every step.
They were probably in their late 70s or 80s and long since retired.
His ears are a little bigger now, because although they have kept growing, his head has shrunk. He has lost most of his hair, which was now making cameo appearances in his ears and nostrils. She sagged in all the wrong places, had gray hair and varicose veins, which were plainly visible on her Mainland ha'ole legs.
You know these people: The blue-haired lady holding up the checkout line at Longs. You must stifle the urge to say, "Cooooome oooon, lady. Have your purse out and your money ready, for God's sake!" He's the ancient mariner, barely able to peek over the steering wheel, driving 17 mph in a 45 mph zone. "Geez, grandpa, pull over!" you think to yourself.
And then it hit me--kind of like the first time you see a spinner dolphin jump up beside you when you're snorkeling quietly in the ocean. With a big "Ahhhhhhhhh," I realized that if I could suddenly go way back in time and see them as they once were, these rusty relics were quite possibly two very vibrant, laughing, dancing, magnificently charismatic manifestations of humankind.
She might have been so drop-dead gorgeous that I myself would have fallen madly in love with her at first sight. If we could go back in time together, she might have broken my heart when she dumped me for the jock next door.
And he might have been my "BFF," a college roommate who would change my world and my destiny because of that special relationship we would have had. Maybe even saved my life when I accidentally fell through the ice one day during the week before Christmas.
Despite the physical wear and tear of the aging process, seniors have a beauty of their own. As somebody smarter than me once said, "Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art."
If we are lucky enough to see those golden years, we should appreciate where we find ourselves--fortunate to be here, blessed to have aged with our loved ones and savoring each new day.
This opinion column is written by Charles Laquidara, who has lived on Maui for over 11 years. He worked at WBCN radio in Boston for 30 years as the morning-drive host of a show called "The Big Mattress" and is occasionally heard on Mana'o Radio here on-island. Email email@example.com