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Senior scene

June 18, 2011

Looking Back: The search for the Fountain of Youth can yield many lessons

Here I am at the ripe age of 79 this year and heading for the 80 mark. I never thought much about "old age" as I went through my younger years, and sad to say I didn't really give the oldsters much thought. either. I just accepted life the way it was.

When young, I used to look forward to better days if I wasn't feeling well. There always seemed to be a better a tomorrow, and happily today there are some happy days sprinkled in with all the ups and the many downs.

Did I ever understand or have compassion for the older folks and their plight of growing old and not being able to do as they used to?

I admit that after "being there and doing (or not doing) that" I can now relate to my age group and that I was remiss ... very remiss.

There are things we simply cannot do or undo, and so we learn to live with what we have. There must be hope ... some sort of a hope of something better.

Talk about "grasping at straws": I remember the many years ago back into the early 1950s when my mother was going to shop for land in Florida. My father was on the way to retiring so they planned on selling their home up North and heading for warmer climes.

Mom drove down to sunny Florida along with me and a friend of mine from college. We were quite the threesome going over the 1,200 miles on the old route 1 coastal highway.

No super highways back then, and it seemed like our trip would never end. Patience was wearing thin so we decided on a change of scene as we took on the role of tourists to do a little sight-seeing.

The "Famous Fountain of Youth" advertising billboards along the highway sparked our interest and we were heading in that direction after our stay in St. Augustine.

Yes, there was such a place: A somewhat fountain-like spring bubbling up though the surrounding beautiful laundered landscape of bushes and flowers was supposedly the famous spot where the waters would give youthful life (for how long ... I didn't know). We entered the enclosed area and read (and reread) the large posters outlining the life struggle of Juan Ponce de Leon back in the 1500s and how he was obsessed with looking for the fountain of youth. Here it was.

Even though this Spaniard has been given credit for discovering and naming Florida, plus the fact that he planted lemon and orange trees (thank you) in our sunny south, still he was mortally wounded by American Indians in 1521. So all that spring water didn't have the answer to his quest ... at least for him.

But, to make this story a bit shorter, our curiosity was piqued to the point of paying the 25 cents for the Dixie cup half full of the legend elixir. It tasted awful.

Now many years have gone past since then and the dreaded old age is here along with the loss of my youthful vigor. (My 25 cents didn't go very far).

But all kidding aside, a hoax is a hoax, and in our day and age there seems to be many a money-maker that uses anything to make a buck. Old people are a target for deception, since time can't be stopped and we all would like to find that "fountain of youth."

The expression "youthful vigor" brings to my mind a Bible Scripture (Job 33:25) citing just that, along with a promise of restoration. Now that's what I can believe in, for after more than 55 years of Bible research I have learned a few things that I enjoy sharing.

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 79-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at elaine-kniskern@stny.rr.com. 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.

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