Swan Songs

By Sherrill Pool Elizondo | November 29th, 2023

The lament of nearing the end

A woman taking a picture of a rainbow in the distance over the Gulf of Mexico, contributed for her article on swan songs

As we reach what could be the last years of our lives, we are experiencing our “swan songs,” writes Boomer reader Sherrill Pool Elizondo, possibly our final opportunities to try new things, chase rainbows, and tackle the bucket list. She ponders what this realization means to older adults.

Older boomers know that we are experiencing our swan songs of doing what we want to do and chasing fewer rainbows.

While I was parking my car a few years ago to go into a Starbucks, a woman in a red luxury vehicle parked next to me. She got out apologizing for her bad parking saying I must park far away, like her, so my nice car wouldn’t get hit by car doors. She wistfully said: “That will probably be my last car.” “Same here,” I replied. So many “lasts” to accept after a certain age!

We continued chatting and, since this retired librarian had been so frank, I mentioned I was curious about how others our age REALLY felt about aging. Not the same old adage “age is just a number.” I told her I wake up terrified some mornings and get out of bed almost immediately to go work out and do anything to stop thinking about fewer years ahead of me than behind me. I knew I was in trouble concerning thoughts on aging at my previous yearly physical.

Remember when people had maybe ONE doctor and a dentist? In adulthood, until the age of 43, the only doctor I saw regularly was the one who delivered two of my babies! He finally felt uncomfortable prescribing cholesterol medication. “Find an internist!” he said.

Turns out the internist I eventually chose had a specialty in geriatrics! I first saw this doctor when he was right out of medical school and I had taken my mother to see him. After I became his patient, an elderly gentleman, who knew me from an assisted living center where I volunteered, interviewing people to write their biographies, asked me why I was seeing a doctor for old people? I couldn’t think of a good answer then, but now I AM that “old” person.

Little did I know I would be seeing more specialists. The list of doctors got longer. So did medical tests. Depressing! I’ve observed my primary doctor age, though … gaining some weight like the rest of us and hair turning silver. I wasn’t happy to eventually have an irregular EKG in his office and be sent to a cardiologist. I almost skipped town that day!

When did I know I was in trouble concerning my feelings? A doctor whipped out a questionnaire and asked, “Are you depressed?” I looked at him with an unsmiling face and said YES! He didn’t ask if my dog died or if everyone in the family was OK. Assuming this was age related, he continued with his litany of “look at all the wisdom you’ve gained at your age!”

Great! I was actually glad to get blood work completed so I could go to the doughnut shop and down orange juice, coffee, and several doughnuts … nurses know and laugh; what the doctor doesn’t know can’t hurt him.

Recent fantasy. I imagine a certain age when I’ll go to my beach house to stay … a place where I don’t feel my age and am not reminded of it, and I’ll dance at the Sugar Shack, where I’ll wear a muumuu and think that a hot fudge sundae sometimes makes a perfectly acceptable meal, where I’ll never visit another doctor again, where I’ll write without thought to word count, where I’ll greet each morning with happiness and contentment and live out my days on my terms.

It’s not over until the fat lady sings.

Sherrill “Nana” with a daughter-in-law and two youngest grandchildren at a restaurant in Rockport, Texas 2023
Sherrill “Nana” with a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren at a restaurant in Rockport, Texas, 2023

Sherrill Pool Elizondo graduated from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) with a degree in English and education. She’s a sixth-generation Texan and interested in genealogy. She’s been an aspiring writer for over 40 years and is the proud parent of three sons and has six talented and remarkable grandchildren. Some of her stories were seen online at Boomer Cafe before the website was closed. This one appeared in 2019. She has other stories which can be found online at Bullock Texas History Museum, 70 Candles, Grand Magazine, Texas Escapes, Bridge of the gods Magazine in Oregon, and Boomer Magazine. She moved from her home of 42 years in Cypress, Texas to the vacation home in Rockport last year. Now she sees doctors in two locations. Life is never as simple as we would wish it could be!

Read more childhood memories and other contributions from Boomer readers in our From the Reader department, including others by Sherrill Pool Elizondo.

Have your own childhood memories or other stories you’d like to share with our baby boomer audience? View our writers’ guidelines and e-mail our editor at Annie@BoomerMagazine.com with the subject line “‘From Our Readers’ inquiry.”

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