wings and things


on March 7, 2013

Before I entered university life, I worked for around ten years in nursing homes. I felt an enormous affection for elderly people and began to understand the communication value of stories told by people who were in various stages of dementia.

I wrote a PhD, then a book, then articles – all published – and Anthony was so proud of me. We used to talk about the elderly people I’d met, their stories, my theories, and the various drawbacks of life in a nursing home. This was around the same time we got married – 20 years ago.

Little did I know then what would happen to us now, that Anthony would be in a nursing home, that Anthony would get Parkinon’s disease dementia (PDD), that Ming, our son, would become ageist.

Like many young people, Ming has an aversion to old age, but he never used to! He used to be compassionate and kind; now he is either horrified or indifferent.

We had a discussion about this last night and Ming actually admitted to ageism.
“It’s Dad’s fault,” he said.

I went outside and wept.

83 responses to “Ageism

  1. tersiaburger says:

    Dear Julie, Ming is scared. He is a beautiful young man filled with fear and trepidation of his own mortality… Hugs dear friend.

  2. Hi Julie, is he hiding unspoken fears – will this happen to me? Just a thought.
    Brenda in the Boro

  3. I understand Ming because when I lost my parents I was around 40 and for a while I was afraid to get too close to some of the older people in my life because I was afraid I would lose them too–I don’t think it is ageism–it is self-preservation.

  4. Hi Julie,
    What a hard, hard place. I agree with Tersia. Ming is scared. And angry. He is losing his dad. Other young men still have theirs. And his dad has become someone so removed from the dad he remembers.

    This is pain talking, not Ming.

    Holding you all in my thoughts, prayers and meditations.
    Much love to you,

  5. prayingforoneday says:

    He is young and lost perhaps? Still to find his true path? and ways?
    I have two sons, (19 and 21) they can say things that cut my heart open, and they don’t care or know. But I let it go 99% of the time. Then when my heart has settled, I speak to them about it.
    I ask them why they said it, and they explain, then I explain why it hurt. And we often find middle ground. Most of the chats we NEED to have are over my Disability and how it affects them, but they are young and won’t show it. I keep at both of them to show human emotion and to hell what their friends think. My son left a message (The 21 year old) on my facebook the other day, it was something. Infact, I am going blog it.
    When they hurt with words I get angry, But I let it go as I know they will grow and realise humility and when to speak and when not to.

    I know why you cried, and I am sorry you are hurt.

    Hugs from afar.

    Shaun x

    • jmgoyder says:

      Shaun, it means a lot that you would comment so generously. You undersrtand so well – thank you. Juliex

      • prayingforoneday says:

        Just trying to bring some understanding and meaning to a shit thing?
        I can only comment as “MY GOD HAVE I BEEN THERE” lol…
        Things will always sort themselves out, things always are ok. When we think bad, bad happens. Think Good, it lifts our spirits.

        Works for me 🙂
        And honestly, anything to help.
        I am here should you EVER need a shoulder or an ear ok

        Shaun x

      • jmgoyder says:

        Me too for you.

      • prayingforoneday says:

        I know..
        And thank you.

        Shaun x

  6. KDKH says:

    Ming sounds angry that his father was ripped away from him by feebleness , which leaves him like an aged person. He sounds like he feels cheated. But he’s a young man. What makes you compassionate makes him angry. It’s the testosterone.

  7. I am sure the research and studies you did back then for your PhD has helped in many ways for the journey you are now on. Your care and compassion shows through..

  8. bluebee says:

    Poor boy – it must be devastating for him to see his dad’s suffering,

  9. I agree with the others. Ming is scared and hurting and at his age he doesn’t have a grasp of how scared and hurt you are at the same time. I am sending you huge hugs.

  10. Aww you carry the weight of the world. Ming is young. He will grow to appreciate the things that are important to you.

  11. ytaba36 says:

    I admire the empathy shown by so many of the people who leave comments.

  12. bulldog says:

    This must be a difficult time for Ming… almost as difficult as it is for you… but as a boy one looks to the father and Ming must be missing that…

  13. Oh, he is a young man looking for easy answers, and there are none. Poor Jules.

  14. disperser says:

    You posted this, and I don’t exactly know why. You know your son better than anyone, and you the experiences of a lifetime to draw on, so I don’t understand what exactly you are looking to get from sharing. Do you want advice? Do you want to unburden yourself? Do you feel partially responsible for Ming’s attitude? Where you expecting more of him?

    I am fairly hard-nosed about such things, so I am not even sure I should comment, but in reading the above comments, I get angry.

    Perhaps those comments are helping you, and if that’s the case, stop reading right here, because the point of view I offer is very different. I should also point out I have no credential to speak of outside of personal experience, and do not offer the following as anything else but my own personal opinion.

    I don’t agree with waiting. I don’t agree with going outside and crying. That should have been discussed right then and there, and by discussion I mean more something along the lines of “How dare you!”

    You say he used to be compassionate . . . per my experience, it’s difficult to lose compassion.

    Compassion is learned. Tolerance is learned. And it is learned not just when one’s life is going great, but when it has a price associated with it.

    I think that in part, such as in this instance, it is learned by having the lack of it challenged, and pointed out. Shamed, even.

    If it’s ever lost, I don’t know how one would regain it. I can’t envision, nor have I seen, that particular trait turned on and off like a switch. If Ming was truly compassionate at a past time, perhaps that is a question that needs to be asked of him. How can you turn that off when it’s most needed? How genuine was it, when it can be lost when faced with a challenge?

    As humans we learn compassion by putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes. By considering someone other than ourselves. That is what needs to be pointed out to people who fail in that regard.

    Comments above speak of fear, of immaturity, of the sense of loss . . . all as excuses. Those same things should be channeled into compassion, regard, respect, and not used as an excuse for an attitude which is essentially selfish. If not now, it certainly won’t happen later.

    Sure, we all want a great life. Through chance, some have amazing lives . . . but many more have amazing lives by making them so from what they are dealt. You don’t have an amazing life by being selfish.

    Truthfully, if it had been anyone else expressing those views, would you have let them slide?

    I know I am way out of line here, but feel strongly about such things. For the other thing to consider is the possibility that years from now, when it is too late to do anything about, Ming might realize the error of his way, of his attitude, and regret not “being there” for both you and his father.

    How many people do we know who look back at past events in their lives, and are profoundly impacted by what they realized were huge mistakes? He should be offered the chance to avoid bearing that particular cross later in life.

    He might not take it, but it should be offered. Perhaps he should even read this particular comment.


    Compassion: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

    Honor: honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions.

    • prayingforoneday says:

      I think a little bit of compassion old bean…
      I can understand what you say, really I do.
      But one persons HARD ISSUE is another person’s NON ISSUE.
      We are all different.
      Maybe you know Julie, I don’t know.
      I just feel, as you said yourself “I know I am way out of line here”
      I am not saying that, really, and I am just debating here, please nothing more.
      I think you know you are being harsh. But I don’t know, you could be family of Julie’s for all I know.

      I just support people. I tried to kill myself once over NOTHING.
      But looking back it was EVERYTHING, lol, you know.

      Life is moments and sometimes we all get lost in these moments, and being on here, we all blog, we all share, and if Julie felt this worth sharing, she must have been upset.
      I have only been here a short time, and I don’t see Julie as the type to just wine and moan for no reason.

      Peace and love…

      I am just saying. Please, I don’t argue.
      Just help and debate ok.
      Please don’t come back at me with rocks and throw them at my teeth 🙂


      • disperser says:

        Not family. Not even acquaintance. On the other hand, if I did not care, I would not have commented.

        Personally, this kind of thing affects me, and I don’t subscribe to blogs who regularly have these types of posts precisely because it affects me.

        That said, I made the mistake or reading the entry, and once I did, I felt I had to reply. Having done that, I’m not the least bit interested in debating, arguing, or any more involvement.

        My opinion is as stated, and it is offered as support. If useful, great. If not, ignore it.

        This, my last comment on the matter, is only offered as a courtesy to your comment (and possible future comments by others).

    • jmgoyder says:

      In some ways, you are probably spot on, but Ming’s recent lack of compassion is due to the years of helping me care for Anthony as his health deteriorated.

      Your comment has made me rethink a couple of things so thanks. I’ve also subscribrd to your blog so I can understand you better.

      • prayingforoneday says:

        Yeah some good points. I wasn’t having a go. I just seen you upset and felt the need to say “bit more tactful” lol
        Sorry disperser if you took my remarks in the wrong way.
        I did not mean to be nasty, and they could be looked at so.

        So I am sorry 🙂


      • Just popped on here to check on you Julie and have to stick my two cents in. I’m not a fan if judging how someone should react. I’m sure both you and Ming have had an enormous range of emotions over this difficult period. I doubt it is wise to judge him or anyone in the moment. I’m sure he will emerge as a kind and compassionate man. How could he not with such wonderful examples. I can look back at moments in my own children’s development and I hardly recognize them compared to the beautiful adults they have become. Sending you love and strength.

  15. mimijk says:

    I don’t think Ming has lost his compassion at all – and I don’t think he’s ageist. I think he is grieving and I think as you cry, he cries – albeit in the ways of a son that is losing his dad bit by bit. In effect, I hear him saying that he hates what is happening to his dad – as do you and all who are touched by your lives. Thinking of you..m

  16. It’s all part of growing up and he’s got a tough road, but he’ll work through it.

  17. aFrankAngle says:

    Crushing weight for so many angles. Strength to all!

  18. mrs fringe says:

    (((((Julie)))) This is heavy stuff for any of us, at any age. For your sweet boy (and he is still your sweet boy), he’s also navigating adolescence and learning to be an adult at the same time.

  19. terry1954 says:

    It’s a good thing we don’t know our future. If we did we would not enjoy our moments in front of us

  20. Trisha says:

    I can remember distancing myself from people, pets and situations when I was a teenager. I guess I did it to try to shield myself from the pain. It may be that Ming isn’t feeling too little but that he’s feeling more than he thinks he can handle. I’m sorry you’re going through this. It must be so hard for all of you.

  21. Julie, you know as well as I do he is grieving.. You both need support groups that deal with the complexities of PDD. DO NOT let the above deter you from sharing with us. As I have said before, we are invested in you. We grieve with you, we love with you, we laugh with you. No one is forced to read you. We all do it cause we love you and your family. Even disperser, has stopped their life long enough to be involved. It may not sound like there is compassion in their voice but I hear it. We dont want you to hurt, for Ming to hurt and we want to reach out and offer our shoulders for you to weep on. Some people are given quadruple doses of compassion and then it turns into stress. This in turn, comes out opinionated and harsh, as I believe the case to be with disperser. You just keep on writing with your heart and we will keep on being here for you. Much love to you Julie, Ming and Anothey…Oh and g-nine. ❤

  22. victoriaaphotography says:

    Its not ‘Dad’s Fault’.

    Its just a phase (that Ming is going through).
    Life’s full of phases and influences – they change from day to day and week to week.

    Our Core Values never really change though.

    I never had any compassion until I became chronically unwell.

    I never had much time for the elderly until my Mother passed away and I reconnected with my Father. I was always drawn to babies & the young.

    Ming just needs Time.
    Time’s a great Healer.

    Forgive him today, as you have forgiven him in the past (for causing you hurt), and forgive him tomorrow (as you undoubtedly will when he errs again in the future).

  23. 😦 It’s good he can talk about it and not just hide.

  24. hugr5 says:

    How old is your son?

  25. oldsunbird says:

    dear sweet Julie, just read of your recent sorrow. I’m so sorry. I won’t offer advice. Seems you have gotten plenty. Just know I’m thinking of you and send you my love.

  26. Robyn Lee says:

    i will go and read part 2 ~ but just came here first to see what I missed in the ‘controversy’ — you know how I feel about “compassion” Julie – and I’ve learned first hand that sometimes it’s not going to surface even in people who I’d expect it from (speaking about my own personal journey)… I have concluded that everyone’s truth is just that “their truth” and we can’t make people find their compassion. They may come to it on their own (as I believe it is within each of us).. but if there is a block (as I believe is the case for Ming) due to wounds and traumatic impact this ordeal has had on him, there is nobody on earth who is going to push a button and challenge him to find it. He will find it when he is ready – and all you can do for him is love him unconditionally and not push against too hard… (that will only inflate the situation you describe here) — ok my 2 cents from Chicago ~ last day of rehab here – flying home on Saturday — thinking of you always — now going to read part 2 xxooo love to you Julie

  27. I read your comments and the one was very harsh I felt indeed…why do we post such things …because this is a journey we are on called life…and life sometimes is harsh and hurtful when it involves our children especially …I can truly ’empathize’ with this point even at this very moment. We share because there is not always someone around to comfort us and we fine it here in what we lovingly or (because of the very word) somewhat laughingly….’blogoshpere’ I have found so much support and I am not ashamed or embarrassed to say so. ‘Ming’ is to have his moments of pushing away what he does not want to face….He will vacillate I’m sure from time to time…so don’t label him forever that which his is exhibiting now….But I know how it crushes a mother to hear such things….take care…Diane

  28. dcwisdom says:

    We all write and comment from our own biases/perspectives/emotions, and I can’t fault anyone for that. Feedback helps us balance things out, and I am proud of you, Julie, for being open to all comments. If we truly avail ourselves to finding balance while holding to our ‘true north’, we can obtain wisdom in our journeys. Of course, I will defend you, my friend from afar, because I know of the heartache you hold, but I encourage you to grow in this journey and don’t let the emotions disable you. One day at a time, step by step, sometimes inch by inch…
    Sending you BIG Texas love across the waves…XO

  29. I can really relate to Ming, I too have an aversion to elderly. In that I do not want to become one. I’m afraid I will have annoying habits that my family will have to put up with, or I become so impaired that I cannot dress myself, or drive. I’m fine with the dying part, I just don’t want to face the challenges of aging and becoming a burden.

    I feel your heart ache. I send you thoughts of acceptance (by Ming) of aging and illness and the ugly realities of the burden placed on the family, though they’d have it no other way. You’d rather you still had Ants whole and well, but you still love the Ants during his worst confusion. Ming is angry that Ants is not whole and well.

  30. FlaHam says:

    Julie, I the for what it’s kworth department, i see Ming’s reaction as pre-mourning, for a lost that he knows is coming his way. He is dreading the lost of his father, and sometimes his reactions are his attempt to break the momenium. I enjoy your posts, and they help me, good or bad, happy or sad. Your need to continue to post on all issues that impact you. Take care, Bill

  31. Anonymous says:

    It would make me cry to if one of my girls said what Ming said………………….

  32. Accurate or not, labeling the issue as some sort of character defect doesn’t seem to offer much that will improve the situation, does it? Our society heavily favors and obsesses over youth and newness above all else. It would be far more useful to teach & encourage another point of view, than to blame our youth for learning the lessons we adults as a group have clearly taught them.

  33. There is a great range of human emotions, many of them out of our control.

  34. I know the challenges you face are great. I was the only caregiver for my father who passed away this January from Parkinson’s. In fact just about ALL of my post from September to January are about my father and care giving. You may find some comfort in those post. They are in the end of life care giving category. My prayers are with you and your family.

  35. Touched me to the core! Aversion to the aged? Some people in some cultures conveniently forget we all live to get old – that aging is ineluctable for the living, for all that live, including those who have aversion to the aged! As an african, we are brought up to look after our parents in their old age, we respect age….and this has worked well though cracks are beginning to appear as a result with contacts with other cultures.
    Thanks for this powerful write up

  36. I’m at a loss for what you say other than I feel for you and Ming in this difficult situation. Paulette

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