Aging: Going Back to Childhood

When I started to read the poem “On Aging” by Maya Angelou, suddenly I began to reminisce about my grandmother. However, the experience I have with my grandmother and the way the poet has portrayed the image of an old person is quite different.

In the poem the poet has showed that an old person wants to be alone, when he or she can indulge himself. He or she wants to listen to his or her mind and tries to savor the peace of calmness. In contrast, my grandmother always hated to be alone. Whenever she was alone she used to call us to join her. She used to say that when she is alone it reminds her about her old age and the upcoming death. She also tried to imply that her loneliness is a sign of our ignorance towards her.

Secondly, the poet has said that an old person doesn’t need anyone’s help, pity, or sympathy. Although I am not sure whether it is really pity, sympathy, or something else, my grandmother always liked kind words from us. She used to say that it makes her feel with happiness and life, as the way childrens feel  with joy and pleasure when elders show them their affection and love via words, gesture, and gift.

The poet has also said that an old person doesn’t like to seek help from others, even though it is hard for him to do their works by himself. He or she likes to be self dependent as long as possible. On the other hand, my grandmother always showed her great thankfulness whenever we offered her any help to her chores. Also in our religion we have a belief that it is mandatory to help an older person in his or her works, so that the God will bless us. We consider it as a way to convey our respect towards our elder.

Nevertheless, one part truly match with my experience with the poem is the last part. I certainly able to relate that part with my experience where the poet has said that it is not always the last goodbye for an old person. Also the part where it says that the heart of old persons is always remains the same as they were young, except the physical change. I have seen my grandmother always jolly and cheerful like a child who becomes ecstatic with simple things. When I asked my mother about that, she told me that a person becoming older is same as a person going back to his or her childhood. Since then I believe that by heart and soul. However, overall I like the poem which has given me a different perspective of old persons.

on aging

“On Aging”, the poem by Maya Angelou, has raised many discussions. I must confess that reading your opinions propelled me to write about it too. The thing that I like to say is that honestly speaking, the moment I read and heard the poem at class, I took a dislike of it. By hearing the serious and stiff voice of the poet and the first lines of the story I saw a frowned old woman in front of myself that frightened me. She wasn’t like the old women of the kind that I had been accustomed to. Where I grew up in, elders have a great value and respect. In both Afghanistan and Iran and as I learnt during the presentations in Reading and Writing class about Nepal, Bhutan and Vietnam and of course Bangladesh, people show their gratitude to elders by helping and caring for them. On the other side, elders enjoy these treatments and become pleased with seeing their children serving them. Moreover, in contrary to Angelou’s poem that she avoids other’s chattering, in my society there are few things you can equate sitting and hearing others chattering. For example, despite my mother isn’t that much old to sit like a sack, but she likes us to sit and talk and share our day with her. Meanwhile, we sometimes used to sit and ask her to talk about her past. We need each other’s sympathy as well as respect. In addition, to show our caring we usually are expected to give elders a hand and help them carrying stuff and fetching them whatever they need. I remember whenever my mom had been carrying something if my seven year old niece was around she would run and take that from my mom’s hand. Then we could see the sparkle of satisfactory in her eyes and hear her blessing.

This difference in the ideas usually is derived from the different patterns and cultures. However, we cannot judge any of them as wrong or right. The thing that we must consider is to pay attention to these differences and act as is appreciated. If we want to express our feeling and gratitude toward elders we have to be aware of what she or he would prefer.

 To show the difference here I have writen a poem:

“On the Joy of Aging”

“When you see me sitting quietly

Like a sack left on the shelf,”

Don’t forget I gave you the life’s laughter

Now you are leaving me on myself?

Hey! Come, my grandson, my granddaughter.

The once whose smile is the essence of my life,

I will tell u another story if you bring me a glass of water!

“When my bones are stiff and aching,”

And I can’t embrace you, take you for a walk

Can you do me a favor?

Sit and tell me about your day. Please talk.

“When you see me walking, stumbling,”

I would be thank full for taking my hand

Cause I’ve spent my life on all of you before,

Not leaving me alone is not a big demand.

“I’m the same person I was back then

A little less hair, a little chin,”

A lot little days, and much less time.

But seeing you around, I’m more lucky and keen.

 Zahra Saifey

On Aging

          I feel Maya Angelou has a totally different attitude and interest towards aging as she has described On Aging. She says she does not need others’ chattering when she is sitting quietly and lonely. However, most of our grandparents want not to be alone and quit. They always expect someone, either their children or grandchildren to be talking to them and taking care of them. Most old people hate being alone in the last few days of their life. Therefore, it’s natural that they seek someone to share their thoughts, and they often reminisce their young days with their grandchildren. Most of the time they are worried that they are getting older with time.

          Angelou asks others not to bring her rocking chair when she becomes week and unable to climb the steps. In contrast to this, we can see most of the old people do not like to climb steps or do any sort of hard work when they are aged. They expect someone else’s support to do their own work. Their preference towards dependency than independency increases with aging.

          Angelou claims not to equate tired with laze. When others see her walking stumbling, she says that not her every last moment of life is gone. However, this is not what most old people think. They always equate laze with tired in order to find an excuse for not doing their work by themselves. Though, the old are in their sixties, they pretend as they are in their nineties. Old people never think that they are still the same young people with a little diminished nature: color of the hair, nature of the skin, strength of the bones, ability to do hard work, capacity of their lungs, fitness in their mentality, etc. In contrast, most of the old think that they have totally lost everything and hence, nothing remaining with them now, and are worried about that.

          However, I would like mention some words about my great grandmother. She has three children and none of them are living with her right now. She and my grandfather lived together; she alone took care of my grandfather until his death. Even after his death, she is still living by herself in the same house as she was before: doing the entire house hold chores having no servant at home. When we ask her to come with us, she never does. When we say that she is an exceptional old women, she retorts by telling being lonely is troubles and peaceful for her. Moreover, she also says so many things similar to Angelou. I suppose, my grandmother is another example to Angelou’s poem.

Does my grandmother also think the way the narrator thinks? (Response to “On Aging”)

“On Aging” is an immensely provocative poem written by Maya Anglou. She has expressed the feelings of an elderly woman who does not want others to show her pity and sympathy because of her old age. The poem is in the second person point of view. Therefore, everytime I read the poem, the very words in the poem echo in my ears as if an elderly person is commanding me not to do this and that. To be more specific, I get obsessed by the memory of my grandmother. I remember how I talked, joked, laughed, and played with my grandmother. At the same time, in one corner of my mind, I think, ”Are the things mentioned in the poem applicable to my grandmother also?”, “Does she not like the way I help, talk, and give company to her?” On the contrary, my heart retorts, “NO!” Then I again begin to think that she appreciates my each and every activity, how can she recon like that?

For the confirmation of the answers to my queries, I reminisce the moments I spent with my grandmother. Before all, I remember the moments I massaged her hands and legs softly every evening. She does not tell me to massage her legs and hands, but I do so because I want her to have a relaxed and sound sleep. I still remember her grinning face. She looks so pleased and relaxed and so do I when I see a subtle smile in her face while I am massaging. Furthermore, I remember me fetching water up to the kitchen. I feel really very glad when I can help my grandmother in her works. When I help her, I encounter an immense optimism in her face – maybe she thinks there is somebody who cares me much, and I feel ecstatic thinking that somebody is me.

However, again I also remember that she never makes me work by herself; she does her work on her own. It is me who go to help her myself though she has not sought for help. These thoughts again make me skeptical if my grandmother also thinks the way the narrator talks about in the poem, but again her smiling and vivid face comes in front of my eyes, thereby deleting all my dubiousness. Thus, I got a conclusion that my grandmother does not think the way the narrator thinks.

On Aging

Maya Angelou illuminates the problems of old people in the poem “On Aging.” She also says that old people don’t need pity and sympathy of young people. Old people are also human being, but they are not as stronger as adults. So, they only need help and respect. Through this poem, I can imagine the problems of old people. In old age, people become helpless and physically disabled. Their bodies don’t able to work properly, and their bones and organs of body ache terribly. Every moment they want to die; they suffer a lot by various diseases. They need help, but no one comes to help them because adults and children scared by seeing their wrinkled face and bended back bone. Adults and children afraid with their appearance, and don’t want to go and help them. Sometimes they make fun to them. Adults never care about the feelings of old people. They don’t show kindness to them.

Why don’t people understand the problems of old people? Everyone knows that one day they will also reach that phase, so it’s not good to misbehave with any old person. It’s like they are ill treated by themselves because their children learn from them. I have seen many cases related to this situation at our village in India. When they are adults, they give much happiness to their children. If they are poor, they can’t fulfill their requirements, but try to give everything to their children without using it themselves. What happened after 30 years when children become adults and adults become old people? Now, it’s the children’s turn to take care of their parents, but they completely forget about their duty. When a man got married — then he doesn’t think about his parents. He only thinks about his children and wife. He forgets that his parents poured all their happiness and struggle on him. The parents of that family feel discriminated by the family. They feel worse when their son doesn’t provide money for their daily needs. Sometimes they don’t give enough food for eat, and don’t allow to them to use their family things. Their children don’t care about their older parents. Some adults are so rude that they send their parent to an orphanage for old people. Consequently, their life is not like life, but like hell. Old people don’t want to live any more. We can feel that pain and just take some action to remove this. We can make understand to those who adults who misbehave and don’t care for their parents.

Savitri Kumari

Comparison of the Poet with My Grandmother’s Traits

 “On Aging” is a poem written by Maya Angelou where she depicts her feelings towards aging. This poem is one of the best poems I have ever read. The poet has successfully expressed her desire and feelings related to her aging. I compared the desires and feelings of the poet with my grandmother’s as she, too, is in her old age. The poet’s feeling and my grandmother’s feelings are somewhat alike and somewhat different.

The poet says that when she is sitting quietly, she is not alone. She doesn’t want any company while thinking about her past or listening to her thoughts. However, my grandmother never liked staying alone. She always enjoyed being around with someone. Sometimes, I have seen her remaining silent and lost in her own world. Nonetheless, my grandmother also disliked sympathy shown to her as she was proud of herself though she was old.

In addition, the poet wants to live independently and does not regret aging. Though her body aches and her bones are rigid, she wants to live with all of it and does not prefer an alternative. My grandmother is the same; she too puts forth more effort to do her daily activities but never skips them. She has a problem on her back; therefore, she can’t go here and there. However, she prefers walking slowly and does her activity rather than staying idle. She expects me and other members not to feel uneasy looking at her slow work.

Furthermore, the poet expresses that when she walks and stumbles, the viewer must not think that she is reluctantly walking. Due to aging, she gets tired quickly and it’s difficult to walk like the others do. My grandmother is also the same; she walks very slowly as she has swollen legs all year. She never skips her morning walk as she wants to maintain her daily routine and keep herself as healthy as possible. She still has confidence and respect for herself. She is as happy as before when I was a little child.

I have learnt that one’s age doesn’t have any effect on one’s inner respect and thoughts.

 Why don’t you share something about the oldest member of your family?

My Response on “On Aging”

“On Aging” is a poem written by Maya Angelou in which she defines her feelings of not wanting others to feel sorry for her being old. She further says although she has become old, she is the same person with less capacity to do things. She suggests the reader not to express sympathy towards her , but to understand her feelings. People don’t become old because they want to, but time leads them to old age and it is inevitable.

           While reading through the poem, the first person who came to my mind is my grandfather. He is ninety-four years old now.  The poet’s view and my grandfather’s view towards old age are quite similar. He also thinks that people do not become old because they wish. It is certain and we will know how it feels, when we become old. He also does not want others to feel sympathy on him and do his work. Although he is too old now, he stills prefers to do his personal things by himself. I know it is implausible, but he washes his own clothes by himself. When my mother asks him not to do so, he strongly disagrees and retorts that he will do his own work until he is capable. He goes to morning walk and practice yoga daily. No one believes that he is ninety-four years old.

In contrast to the poet, he wants others to come and talk with him. He never stays alone. He goes to old age house nearby and talks to other old people. Not because he wants them to feel sympathy on him, but to talk about the things which he had done in the past. He shares his stories about his life with me and my brother which I find really fascinating and interesting. When he becomes sick, he wants us to take care of him. He becomes happy, when I cook his favorite food for him and gives me complement too. When we love him and understand his feelings, he is happy but if we try to pity or feel bad for him he argues with us. Sometimes it is really hard for us to make him satisfied and happy. On the other hand, whatever he has taught is really important and unforgettable for me. Therefore, we should not pity on old people but respect and love them.

Digya Shrestha

The Old

            The poem “On Aging,” which was written by Maya Angelou, shows an old person who doesn’t want people’s pity or sympathy; it gives a piece of information that the old need people’s understanding.

            When I read the poem, I felt it is usual that the old have this kind of feelings – don’t want others’ pity. However, I was a little surprised that an old person wants to sit alone and doesn’t need others’ chattering. It is very strange to me because I haven’t seen any person like that. My grandmother, for instance, is a person who wants people to talk with her and stay with her. She is alone at home since my parents and sister are working outside. She often goes to market to meet her friends but not to shop. Especially, Grandmother’s attitude of loneliness is obvious when a festival is approaching – she visits neighbors one by one to avoid staying alone at home. Similarly, I have seen many old people do those kinds of things to relieve their loneliness. My grandmother and those old people have given me an image of the old: No matter how strong they are or how positive attitudes they have, they are willing to chat with others, especially to their family members. Nonetheless, Angelou portrays a different image of an old woman: she sits alone quietly, has a peaceful expression, uses one of her hands touch her chest where she can feel her heartbeat. It is a beautiful picture that nobody wants to disturb the wonderful peace. I very inspired that the old can enjoy their loneliness, which tells me that old people can be as optimistic as young people, and they have their certain beauty even though they are old.

            Everyone in the world very enjoys the time when he or she is young; there are numbers of people cannot face the facts that they are becoming old. I guess that if those people have a chance to read Angelou’s poem, they may know they still have beauty, which is different, even though they walk slowly, stumble seriously, and climb difficultly. Being old is not a terrible thing; the real terrible thing is people can’t understand the wonderful world that the old have. No matter my grandmother or the person in Angelou’s poem, the one thing what they really need from the youth is understanding.

My response to “On Aging”

“On Aging” by Maya Angelou is a very interesting poem, which contains the true feelings of a sassy, old woman. We all know that aging is a natural process and we have to accept it. When people grow old, they become very anxious about their lives when they began to think about death. Therefore, some of the old people are isolated; whereas, the others are very satisfied to be with their loved ones.
In the poem, we see the old woman gets quite annoyed when people show sympathy towards her. She wants to live independently without the help of others who think that she is lonely. She says that she does not need anyone’s help while walking up the stairway. She doesn’t like it when people think she is lazy when she has no stamina. She tells how it bothers her when people keep on repeating saying “goodbye” to her. It makes her think that people are disappointed thinking that she may die very soon. In addition, she says that she is always the same as she was before. It’s only her physical appearance and health that is degrading. She still has the same thoughts and same behavior, so she just wants people to behave as they used to do before.
While reading the poem, the picture of my grandmother roamed around in my mind. She was in her seventies when she used to spend most of her time watching movies alone on her favorite TV channel. She used to talk less and engage herself in different types of work. She would do her laundry by herself and would clean her room by herself. She loved to laugh and chat with us. In addition, she never used to talk about her old age. It seemed that she was happy with her age. She liked to go shopping to see if there was a new saree in the market. She had more sarees than my mother. Furthermore, she was also interested in trying out new hair styles and hair pins.
Therefore, through these images we clearly figure out some differences and similarities between my grandmother and the woman in the poem. The difference that we can see is on the basis of their behaviors. On the other hand, the similarity between them is that both of them feel the same way that they used to feel in their youth. In conclusion, comparing these two old ladies, we see that the people’s desire do not change according to their ages.

Respose to “On Aging”

The first person that stroke on my mind, while reading this poem was my grandmother. Similar to the poet, my grandmother used to tell us that everyone grows older. We shouldn’t pity them. Rather, we should be caring and understanding towards them. The image of the poet which I got through this poem was independent, high spirited, optimistic and sassy. My grandmother is really tuff to be dealt. And it’s very difficult to please her. I think aged people are more difficult to handle than children. It’s difficult to persuade them easily. If we do care, they think we pity them; if we don’t, they feel being ignored. So we should be placid while dealing with elderly people and should be decent.
In some country we can find the policy that after reaching 16 or 18 years, children leave their parents and home in order to be independent. We also often see that senior citizens are left all alone in old age homes by their children. Though in some parts of the world people take care of their old parents, still there are other parts where old parents are being subjugated, controlled, and hated by their own children. With aging, various mental and physical retards occur. It is must to be taken into consideration that we all should face aging and old age. So, the old people are not the matter of hatred or laxity. They are the one who have more experiences and need more support and care. Before treating the old people badly, we should think twice that we too are going to get old and our children might desert us as well.
The way the poet had put forward the essence of old age and had tried to convey the message of old people to the readers, is really fascinating. It not only makes her young readers consider how they should treat elderly people but also gives aged ones brainwave to live life happily. It inspires the old people not to be completely reliant on their young ones if they can do it themselves. Age is nothing just a number. Being old doesn’t mean that elderly people don’t have feelings. They want someone to understand them and care for them rather than to pity them. Despite being physically weak, they are strong enough to guide their young ones. Though it’s simple and small matter to hear, it plays a vital role in making our relationship with them strong. So, we should respect and love our elderly people.