I appreciated Jean Johns’ Opinion piece, “On Becoming Invisible.” When my 90-year-old father came into my care, I was happy and proud to include him in all my social gatherings with friends. However, I quickly became keenly aware of those who looked at him with acknowledgment and proceeded with interest and those who looked around him to socialize with someone they may have found more relevant. I often found him sitting alone in large gatherings, only to notice very few people who took the time to get to know him. At first, I saw the sadness in this, but I embraced how revealing it was not of my father’s age (now 96) but of my friends’ shortsightedness.

My father is old, feeble, and frail, but his mind is sharp, his humor witty, and his life experiences and knowledge extraordinary. Now, when others pass him by or patronize him with questions in a voice as if they were speaking to a child, I feel sorry for them for not recognizing the remarkable person he is. In the spirit of full disclosure and fairness, I must admit that I’ve certainly been accused of inadvertently passing someone by myself. However, I’d like to believe it’s primarily due to my ADHD, which tends to go into overdrive in large crowds rather than any judgment based on age or ability.

Imagine knowing 96 years of living, only to be seen or spoken to as a child. I hope Joan does more pieces to advocate for our elders and remind us all to see the person first. Whether it’s someone with a physical disability or mental disabilities, young or old, we all want and deserve respect and to be seen. Thank you, Joan for reminding us all. I see you and hear you loud and clear.


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