A customer came into the bank today, someone my supervisor knew pretty well and they talked for a few minutes. We probably won’t ever see her again. The customer, an elderly woman, was being moved to Mississippi to live in an assisted living community, because she no longer feels comfortable living on her own. Recently she found herself in her car, waking up to someone tapping on her window at a stoplight, with no recollection how she ended up in that part of town. She had left her house that morning intending to go one place, but ended up somewhere completely different, causing her to come to the conclusion that she could no longer live by herself, so she’s giving her house and car away to her grandkids and moving to live closer to one of her sons, and while this is a very sad story, it’s not that uncommon. I had a man approach my window at work when I first started. He had thinning white hair with bruises and cuts all over his face. He walked slowly up to the counter where he withdrew money from his bank account. I had a nice conversation with him, and before he left, he asked if he could give me some advice. He told me three words, that I’ve been thinking about ever since, “Don’t get old.”
I have often thought about getting older, but the longer I work at the bank and see a lot of elderly people who struggle to do things that once came so easy to them, like fill out a withdrawal slip, add up the money they are trying to deposit, or even walk through the lobby, I can’t help but hope that I never reach that age. One of the saddest things to see, in my opinion, is an old person getting confused. They left their home knowing exactly what they wanted to do, but when they arrive at the grocery store or the bank, the struggle to remember why it is that they are even there. It’s heartbreaking to see people lose their independence, to live for so many years as an able human being, only to struggle to do basic things once they get older. I see the pain as they walk, the sadness in their eyes, as they try to accept that this is the way their life is now. I think a strong argument could be made for legalizing medically assisted euthanasia, because if you are constantly in pain, why should you be forced to continue living through it day after day.
The thought of dying is pretty scary to me, but the thought of living a life where I’m no longer able to do routine things, like drive or use the bathroom on my own, is even worse. I don’t want to die for a long time, but I hope that I’m lucky enough to do so before I come to despise living. Life is rarely easy, but there just comes a certain point where it gets so tough that it just isn’t worth it any more. I’m sure there are people out there who think that medically assisted suicide should never be legal, that it is a selfish act leaving loved ones behind to deal with the pain of loss, but I think it’s selfish to expect someone else to live in unimaginable pain, prolonging a life that will end eventually anyway, solely for the benefit of those around them.