My kids think I'm joking when I tell them they should consider a career working with geriatrics. But seriously, the way the job market is shaping up in this town at the moment, it is the one safe bet for a solid future of employment, if you ask me. Admittedly I have no personal experience of wiping sagging bottoms and clipping old thick toenails, but how bad can it be? A small price to pay for a life of employment which will never buy you a house but but at least get you out of bed each morning.
I'm also possibly motivated by the fact that I really love hearing retrospective stories of peoples' lives. When you ask someone in their 80s to tell you their life story there is so much to hear. Not that they have necessarily done anything incredible or newsworthy, but when you get the whole picture from beginning to end, it can speak volumes about life choices and opportunities seized (or not). The retrospective prism of time delivers all you need to know about the impact of decisions and circumstance, for better or worse. The more years you've got up your sleeve as the listener, the more valuable this experience can be. Which is probably quite a selfish motivation, but there it is.
Recently I completed an oral history project based on a group of RSL members (Returned Servicemens' League, which is now mainly made up of WWII and Korean War veterans) in a nearby suburb. There's not many of them left, and in fact one lovely chap (pictured left) shuffled on not long after I interviewed him. Another, who was 99, started each sentence with "and then the next day" which given how many days he'd clocked up, made me seriously worry if I was ever going to get home. None of them were war heroes, but they all spoke with the benefit of experience, lots of experience, and had lived quiet but fulfilling lives, in one way or another.
I might be not far off senior classification myself these days, but until I get there, I plan to milk the oldies around me for all they are worth. My son is here marching on Anzac Day. He might have given a fleeting thought to old people that day, but I'll bet that didn't include their bottoms.