Aging with style

Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh received a B.A. from Skidmore College and was ordained as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is fortunate to be involved in so many facets of the community including serving as the chaplain for JF&CS and an instructor for CAJE. This will be her fifth year serving as the visiting Rabbi in Decatur, Ill. She has also served congregations in both Sydney and Perth, Australia. When not writing her weekly BLOGS, she can be found running marathons.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

I enjoy visiting this particular resident. She is in her early 90’s and very independent. She takes for granted that she takes care of her own finances including paying bills. She is savvy about investments and is capable of addressing a range of topics from motherhood to politics to home repair. She never feels sorry for herself and is extremely matter-of-fact about the cycles of life.

I always visit her early in the morning as she is either finishing breakfast or back in her room. The other day after we were finishing a wonderful visit, she commented that she needed to change her sweater as it did not match her shirt.

“Excuse me?” I said. She repeated the statement. “Why? It looks fine.” I responded. She said, “Can’t you see that the flower on my sweater clashes with the colors in my blouse?”

I felt foolish. I am not one to fuss with details. I am a big picture person. Most days I am in a bit of a rush and while I make every attempt to look more than presentable, I probably miss the mark according to some of my residents who are always perfectly coiffed.  And I suppose it crossed my mind that did it really matter if the colors were not ideal. I was so embarrassed to think that she wouldn’t care. But that is what I admire about this resident. She does care. She possesses self-respect and dignity. Detail and presentation do count. That is what makes her so astute and enjoyable to be with.

I glanced down and my outfit. “Could be better,” I said to myself.