It’s easy to be invisible. Be an old woman, or an old man (without the debate of which term to use—-elderly, senior, golden ager), be LGBTQ, be poor, be black or brown. So many ways.
Bob and I are in Florida for a month. In the communities we have stayed there are a plethora of the old like us. Here we command some attention. Mostly from young clerks who want to sell us more weeks in these gated communities of the almost infirm. We are still up and walking about; most of us, that is. Some folks have oxygen tanks and walkers, but they are less visible (see what I mean).
Yesterday we drove the hour or so to South Beach Miami. There we encountered the lively street scene of a vibrant community. Lots of salsa music, skimpy outfits. In a club on the beach men donned wigs, outrageous makeup to dance to dollars pushed onto them. The opposite of being invisible. But were the patrons, fueled by lots of margaritas, jeering them or applauding them? I don’t know. Maybe the performers didn’t care as they collected crumpled ones and fives. Invisibility is overrated they thought.
Among the raucous mob of glad partiers a very old woman threaded her way along the sidewalk next to the many cafes filled with patrons eating Cuban sandwiches, drinking tequila. She stopped at an outdoor table every so often. Mumbled something and continued shuffling on, ignored by all. And so were we, two elders invisible in the parade of the young: bikini clad women, shirtless men, sun worshipers, shoppers, dancers.
But being invisible did not prevent a mother (me) and son (Christopher) from writing our story. On December 30th, a crisp cold Buffalo day, about 100 friends and family joined us to celebrate our book. And even better read it. Amazing to me. Often I resisted when Christopher and Patrick told me my story was a big part of our family story. Christopher’s bravery inspired me. He heard a different story growing up than the story we planned for him. He heard a different message from the rest of us in the family when we attended Mass, when we watched TV, when we joked with friends. What he heard was that he was invisible, and even worse, evil. If he could overcome that and grow into himself then all of us invisibles can too