Dignity is rare. All too often we get duped by masquerading frauds like selfish ambition, individualism, and the proclivity toward the self-alienation of personal comfort. The curious thing about dignity is it is impossible to achieve in one's own efforts - we are all subject to the whim of others for its endowment in our lives. There are many things we can do to disenfranchise ourselves from receiving dignity - and unfortunately we all done enough to disqualify ourselves from it. So dignity becomes an act of grace.
There is little else that is as undignified as the prospective loss of my waste elimination system. I can't imagine a how a diaper could help me maintain a sense of personal poise. Age is feared as the harbinger of death but even more it is old age that is feared as that period of time when we will eventually lose the ability to corral the resources of our personality to cover up the ugliness we've closeted all our lives. And nastiest of all is the fact that we WON'T be dead - to avoid it all.
Some of what I enjoy most about our new life, is the stories that Char regales me with. Ever so careful not break any issues of confidentiality she tells me the sad, funny, frightening, surprising and frustrating stories of the lives of the 'clients' on her case load. She is devoted to doing her job to the best of her ability but she really is not interested in her own track record. I can tell as she talks about the man with schizophrenia who is dying of cancer that she really is an agent of dignity. It could be that case after case might eventually wear her into that jaded dark suspicion that runs rampant in the 'caring' professions. People always ask me how my wife is doing. I usually tell them that she loves her job. But I realized something today she does not love her job so much as she loves the people she gets a chance to care for - and I know she is real good at bringing them dignity.
A lot of this sorta came together for me tonight when I was doing some investigating about a new documentary I heard about on the radio today. Here's a video and some links to a few other things related to the Young@Heart octogenarian chorus. Enjoy!