Saying goodbye

By Nina Steele 

Everything as they say has to come to an end. And so, after 8 years of working with old people, I have decided to call it a day.

Working with old people has given me an insight into old age, and enriched my life in ways that I never anticipated. I have an understanding of a lot of the issues that are age related, and even though that allows me to prepare myself for the inevitability of my own fate, I cannot help but wonder what that fate will look like.

Interacting with so many people with different levels of need, does have the power to humble you. Not only because some of us have elderly parents with similar issues, but also because we are forced into looking into our own future. It can be quite unnerving at times.

It is a job that inevitably leaves an indelible mark. Anyone who works in a field where death is a common occurrence, I suspect feels the same. During my 8 years there, I have lost many people that had become good friends. As you can imagine, that is a side of the job that I will not miss.

What I will most take with me, are the personal stories. I often felt as though I was there with them. As a childless person, witnessing for myself that having children is no guarantee against loneliness in old age was quite an eye opener. I suspect that had it not been for the fact that I was fortunate enough to work with old people, I would have bought into the false assumption that not having children automatically means you will end up lonely in old age.

Now I can get on with my life, knowing that I will become lonely only if I allow myself to be. All the people that I know with a busy social life, have tended to be those without children. Because being childless has forced them to plan for old age.

I have met some very interesting childless people through the years. And in addition to their childlessness, what binds them together is their forthrightness, particularly the ones who have embraced their childlessness wholeheartedly.

I felt that the time was right for me to move on. I am in no doubt however that, as I get older and start living some of the issues that I have so far been a spectator to, that all those memories will come flooding in.

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