Public service reminder: you are not the only one growing old.
Often times, I notice time passing by me, but to myself only. For example, I notice that my hair is due for a haircut, but I don’t notice the gray hairs that have sprouted out from my parent’s heads. I am always focused on my own development, my own life, and I tend to forget that everyone around me grows older too.
Last week, I had another reminder of this fact when I visited my doctor. He told me he is retiring.
The news startled me. This was my family doctor of almost twenty years! The man cured my chicken pox, helped me fight acne, and found a cough syrup that wasn’t banana or cherry flavoured (thank the lord). He saw me grow out of pigtails, start wearing makeup, and now asks me why I still come to see him with my mother.
Doctor: So what is wrong?
Me: – looks at mother –
My doctor tells me he is 75 years old, to which I simply shut my mouth instead of saying, “Oh come on, you’re fine, dude! Just stay as my doctor!”
My doctor is 75 years old. What even? He certainly doesn’t look like he is 75 years old and he doesn’t feel like it to me either. In my eyes, he is the same doctor from twenty years ago – the same nice man who gave me cute band-aids and has nice photos of the arctic hung on his walls. The reality, of course, is different.
My doctor has spent the vast majority of his life on his medical career and has delayed retirement well over the normal age of 65 years old. He has every right to retire at any age he wishes, and as a long-term patient, I had neglected to see him as another human being who grows old just like me. Similar to how I used think teachers lived and stayed at school and did nothing else but teach, I also thought my doctor would always be there like a wise wizard character in a video game quest.
I think about how the kids I used to babysit are probably attending middle school now, holding hands with their second girlfriend or listening to the 2017-equivalent of Simple Plan and Green Day. I think about my teachers; most of them are retired now as well. I think about me, eating a breakfast my mother made and getting into my father’s car just like all the other mornings I woke up and got ready for school.
I often feel like I haven’t moved since I was sixteen. Aside from having a job, I’m not really a fully-functioning adult. I have essentially been delaying adulthood just like how my doctor has been delaying his retirement.
This reminder serves as another bittersweet reminder that time connects us to people and time will also make us part ways. In childhood, time’s path seems to stretch onward forever so we don’t worry about when paths will end or curve away to another direction. As people slowly disappear from our lives, whether that is due to personal aspirations or because simply too much time has passed, we realize how terribly sad and beautiful growing up can be.
P.S. This may be of no interest to you, but my doctor will not be traveling all over the world after retirement. He plans to go back to school and learn about the human mind and psychology – a plan that is admirable and truly reflective of him as an intellectual. I’d be peacin’ it.
P.P.S. the only time I’ve ever seen my doctor outside of his office was at a McDonald’s.