wings and things

Ageism 2

on March 8, 2013

pea 184

I feel compelled to write a follow-up to yesterday’s post due to the interesting comments that were made. There was even a little debate on my blog which has never happened before!

The ageism that Ming has admitted to is not directed at just Anthony; it is more generalized. He is easily annoyed with all things old – not just people. For example we live in a very old house where things are beginning to break down and wear out – old carpets, broken furniture, warped flyscreens, holes through which mice enter, old plumbing, electrical wiring etc. Similarly, we have problems outside with old lawnmowers, trees, sheds, hoses, water tanks etc.

This is all perfectly normal for an old farm and none of it is insurmountable, but getting things fixed is expensive and time-consuming and, for young Ming, a source of constant frustration.

Add to this old Anthony’s deterioration in health and we have a young Ming with an aversion to both the concept and reality of the word öld”.

If I were to define compassion, I would say it is equal parts sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is feeling sad FOR somebody else, whereas empathy is feeling sad LIKE somebody else. In general, the latter does not come easily to young people when dealing with old people.

I think that if Ming weren’t compassionate, he would not be worried about his lack of empathy for Anthony. He wants to be empathetic but he can’t feel it and I can’t make him feel it, so we accept it. His love for Anthony runs deep, but his liking of Anthony is problematic because Ants is now so old, frail and incapacitated that Ming avoids seeing him. Strangely, I am the one most hurt by this as Ants is more philosophical and remembers feeling the same aversion to his own father after his father had a stroke.

Yesterday’s post was not intended as a moan or a cry for help; I was just telling it like it is, warts and all!

When people ask Ming, “So, what are you doing these days?” Ming always replies proudly, Ï’m following in Dad’s footsteps.” I used to think Ming was referring to the fact that he is milking cows but now I think his statement means much more.

Oh yeah, and a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life. We are lucky.

61 responses to “Ageism 2

  1. Writing Jobs says:

    That was an excellent post today. Thanks so much for sharing it. I
    really enjoyed reading it very much. You have a wonderful day!

    Enjoy writing? Join Us Today –

    Writing Jobs: Writers Wanted

  2. lucewriter says:

    I love your definitions of sympathy and empathy, and I’m glad you have such a good understanding of Ming’s feelings at this point in his life.

  3. hugr5 says:

    I think we “fear” seeing our loved ones grow old and grow sick. It can manifest in annoyance, anger, loathing, disgust, avoidance, all the negative terms… oh, and how horrible it is for that one who “fears” after the loved one dies, i.e., the GUILT of having felt like that….

    We don’t want to lose them. We don’t want to be reminded that we too will grow old, grow sick …

    I saw a saying once, that I think is brilliant…

    “Growing old isn’t for wimps.”

    Got that right!


  4. terry1954 says:

    I really do understand what you both are going through, it is the moments that are difficult but the completed ball of yarn is wonderful. Julie you and Ming are doing a good job. You two are the glue to your family. Don’t change, stay sweet and strong as you have always been

  5. Robyn Lee says:

    perfect follow-up Julie — think you and i were on the same page from day 1 ~ xo

  6. Trisha says:

    I love your definition of compassion and it’s great that you are understanding of Ming’s point of view.

  7. sbcallahan says:

    poor ming! at his age it is so normal to want things in a hurry and to want things new. as hard as this is for you, it is worse for him. this is his father, the man he wants to be like and when he sees that man hurting and frail, it has to hurt him. he knows he can’t fix this and being male that is what they are born to do.

    the three of you have so much love for each other and only someone going through the same thing would really understand what it is like for you. sometimes people just need to be able to hear (read) what you are saying and be supportive. i hope that you are having a better day!

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thanks for these insights, Sandra.

      • sbcallahan says:

        i wanted to say some other things and maybe i will now. this should be a safe place to offer up our most tender moments. it really, in my opinion, is not the place to be judgemental.

        what you all are going through is so damn unfair and each of you have to find a way through it. there are going to be days when each one of you are overwhelmed and some times it may happen all at once for all of you. on those days i would hope that you can openly share here and get the support you need. not judgements or criticism.

        maybe i am crossing the line here and if that is so then please tell me. i would never want to offend you julie. i think you are so kind, gentle hearted, and just plain duh-mazing!

  8. garry henderson says:

    And Ming’s point of view is quite normal. Precisely how I felt when I was his age and hoping I would die before I reached thirty. Quite normal.

  9. bulldog says:

    Julie .. I love this.. and want to tell you, that as a young man, I had the odd feeling that everything should be how I wanted it to be… not how it was.. this I found frustrating, life was not fair, I had a certain image in my head of how a perfect world should be and wanted all things to go my way… Father and I clashed terribly.. and when he volunteered for me to make an early entry to National army call up.. this was less fair as far as I was concerned and at that stage did nothing for good relations between us.. I loved him, but hated what he had done to me… yet it was that very period in the army that opened my eyes to imperfection and not getting things how I would have liked them to be… (actually one hell of an eye opener of how things really are) .. I think Ming needs time to discover for himself the realities of life.. no one can do it for him.. and I’m sure his love for you and Ant are sometimes shown in strange ways, that it is there and heartfelt.. but the ideal is not, and that is a reality only he can work out in time… which from following you forever, I’m sure he has learnt from you and Ant.. he sounds a good level headed man that will work things out and at some stage take over as a support system to both of you, as all sons do when they realise what is needed of them… love to you Julie and be strong, I can’t say it enough, but with what you have been through, you are one hell of a strong Aussie Lady…

  10. This was an excellent post today. You described well the subtle yet profound difference between sympathy and empathy. I have found that in many aspects of what I have been going through, people my age (plus or minus 10 years) are able to empathise with me, whereas my kids just want to “fix” me. I understand EXACTLY where you are coming from with Ming. I empathise with you Julie! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  11. Julie, So glad you sound better today. Saying what is going on in your life and your mind is exactly what we all tune in to read.That’s what friends are for!

  12. Julie, I love that last line: a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life…

  13. Kozo says:

    Oh, Julie, you are a saint. You hit the compassion nail right on the head. I believe that empathy is so hard for men because we have it beaten out of us (sometimes literally) from an early age. I struggle with empathy just like Ants and Ming. I am attending a Mindfulness and Compassion workshop today, so I will send you any advice on how to create empathy for men. For now, all I can offer is {{{HUGS}}}. Love, Kozo

  14. As you must know by now, you really hit it out of the park with your perfect dissection of compassion and its relationship with both sympathy and empathy.It’s interesting when you write something just to vent and to get it out; your audience, who want to help and fix it, not realizing that the post wasn’t necessarily a cry of help just an outlet of pent up emotion and you end up having to soothe your audience the next day when all you wanted to do was vent. 🙂

  15. Judith Post says:

    I love your definition of compassion. If pressed, I’m not sure what I would have answered, but I think you nailed it. I’m a huge fan of your Ming. He’s a kid. Kids are full of energy and dreams and impatience. My boys fuss at anything that slows them down. They love us, but they’re anxious to spread their wings and make their own futures. That Ming CARES about doing the right thing and about you and Anthony is telling. I think he’s awesome.

  16. viveka says:

    Julie, me being back …. I think maybe Ming is afraid for what maybe will come his way and also he are so young to take in what is happening to his dad, that he truly admire and hate that his dad isn’t the one he really are.
    I recognize myself in Ming – was always worried about if I will get the same problems as my mum had to suffer through, but they never came my way – but they was there in the back of my head for maybe 20 years ..
    Still I think when he says that he follow in dad’s footstep he means the farm and … he say it because he are proud over what his father did and what he does today. I’m sure that he doesn’t mean that he are worried that he will end up as Ant, even if that is on his mind at times. You should sit down talk to him about it – ask him if he are worried about becoming like Ant one day. I wish somebody had done that with me. Brilliant post to come back to.

  17. SnapInTime says:

    Excellent post; I also went back to catch up on yesterday’s. My heart aches for all of you and this excruciating process.

    One of my sons is only a couple years younger than Ming. There is no doubt whatsoever he loves his sister, but his fear over her health and prognosis when she’s very sick manifests in such awful behavior towards her sometimes. It would be quite easy to believe he had more empathy and compassion for a chronically ill stranger than his own sister… but when your heart is invested in someone, fear and pain and grieving manifest in such different ways for different people based on their maturity, personality type, coping mechanisms and so on. It’s a blessing that you and Ming are close, that he communicates with you. You will work through this together… Day by day. ❤

    • jmgoyder says:

      What you say about strangers is interesting because sometimes I think it actually is easier (for all of us) to feel compassion for people we don’t even know, than for our loved ones.

  18. dcwisdom says:

    As I age, I feel I have more wisdom to understand that perception is all relative in accordance with maturity. There’s no way my 20-year-old understands the problems of aging and disease (with her Dad or others), and I don’t expect her to. All I can do is encourage her to show kindness and patience and be patient with her in her growth process. Then again, Parkinson’s is such a strange disease the way it affects everyone associated; it takes extra grace on everyone’s part.

  19. He’s dealing with stuff that usually comes twenty years from now; he’s bound to be angry.

  20. Dialogue makes things better, if only a little. I’m glad Ming and you spoke about it. It won’t always be rosy; I think it never is, with the people we love. Uphill, downhill, uphill, and we still stick together. It’s rather amazing, isn’t it?

    ‘… a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life.’ Beautiful words, Julie. Thank you. And stay awesome!

  21. Fabulous post. I think you have hit the nail on the head. I understand how Ming feels, as I have been surprised by having the same feelings about my mother-in-law. I don’t want to feel that way, and I certainly try not to act like I feel. But, you cannot just erase your feelings with logic.

  22. Aw, what a great post, especially the end. Wonderful insight on your son.

  23. Maturity is called that for a reason. Let’s not be too hard on the young. I’m much more compassionate now too.

  24. adinparadise says:

    You obviously have a great relationship with your son. Love the photo of Ming and Ant together. I think that it’s natural for young people to find the thought of old age very scary. As they get older it becomes more acceptable. Love your definition of sympathy and empathy. Compassion is something that can only come with life experience, and Ming is just starting out on his adult journey. Hugs to you all.

  25. Lynda says:

    I was the same way at Ming’s age much to the chagrin of my parents. I think at his age, if we would admit it, that most of us to a greater or lesser degree were. And I know for a fact that my parents felt the same way about it. In respect to myself I also know that it did not change the deep love I had for my grandfather.

  26. An excellent follow-up post! Here’s hoping for better days and more compassion.

  27. I’m going to be that if I were to check in with Ming in, say, 50 years, I’d find that he has a beautiful Victorian house built in 1876 full of antiques and driving, perhaps, a 1964½ classic Mustang…

  28. Annoyance with all things old happens to many young people it is part of life before you know it that phase will have passed and he will want to hold onto the old things…………….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: