Friday night, I had the distinct pleasure of eating dinner with my 90-year-old grandfather on his birthday.
He came all the way to New York to eat dinner with me and it was such a special time. After dinner, he asked if he could see my apartment.
We took a car from the restaurant and when we arrived at my apartment, I helped him out of the car. He has a slight shuffle, but you’d never know. The man acts 65: he still works every single day at his company, is the most generous guy I know, and is crazy intelligent.
As we were walking up to the door of the apartment building, a woman who looked in her 30s pushed us aside to get into the apartment first.
Softly, I told her, “I live here, too.” She looked me up and down and gave me eyes like, “yeah good joke.”
She walked up the stairs and paused at the top, waiting for it to open for her. Once it did, she stepped inside, and my grandfather was right behind her. She slammed the door shut right in face so hard and so suddenly that he fell — on the steps. Being the absolutely incredibly man that he is, he caught himself and didn’t even burst out at her.
He could have fallen and broken his hip.
I helped him inside and then screamed up at the woman as she went up to her respective floor, “how dare you! That was completely unacceptable! He’s 90 years old!!!”
She didn’t look back.
The problem is how selfish and in our own worlds we are that we think we honesty need to get in the door two seconds before a 90-year-old and that it’s acceptable to slam the door in their face.
I’m not proud of it, but I proceeded to get intensely emotional. I was sobbing over the fact that someone could do that. My grandfather, one of my biggest role models, was simply trying to shuffle up the stairs. And she did not give a damn.
It was infuriating. It was wrong. It was unfair. It was scary — as I watched him fall, I admit I was thinking, “this is it. At some point in his life, he’d fall. And this is it.”
I’m thankful to God that he caught himself, but I’m immensely sad. I’m sad this is what people have become. I’m sad that my grandfather’s 90th birthday dinner ended on this note.
My grandfather tried to calm me down, saying, “don’t worry about it. I could have been anyone; I was just a random guy to her. Don’t worry about it.”
Everyone we interact with in life is somewhat random. That doesn’t mean we should be so selfish and rude.
I am sad that my grandfather so quickly brushed it off, too. Had many people treated him this way in his older age?
Conviction washes over me tonight as I think about the older people I have bushed past hurriedly exiting the subway, the older people I have failed to ask if they might need help. They could have fallen, too… or worse.
That night, I had given my grandfather a birthday card with an opening flap that read, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”
I think my grandfather would be 50 if he didn’t know his age, but I believe he is constantly reminded of his 90-year-old status by rude people who are so caught up in their own worlds.
I have to ask, is this how YOU would want to be treated at 90 years old?