Friday, March 25, 2011

Am I Too Old to Say OMG?!!!

I'm reading a novel which features a pair of "Elderly Oxford Dons".  I was startled to realize that they are the same age as Charley!  Which means, parenthetically, (or should I say Grandparenthetically) they are a year YOUNGER than myself!  The novel I read before this one was "Gaudy Night" by Dorothy Sayers and I'm realizing for the first time that the Dean of Shrewsbury College could be about 30 years younger than I am!  Well, she has been in her thirties since before I was born, so the first time I read "Gaudy Night" she was much older than me.  Does that make me feel better or worse?

I'm ELDERLY for crying out loud!

I told a friend of mine that I will turn 60 in August and she was shocked.  She said, "I had no idea you were so old.  I thought you were in your 40's!"  

"So did I!"  I responded.  I am totally surprised to suddenly find myself in this situation.  If "50 is the new 30", then I am about to turn 40 a second time and perhaps that's not so bad...

I'm fortunate to have a group of close friends who make "Elderly" look fabulous.  One of them hikes around Australia and muses about moving closer to her children at some distant future point when she gets old.  All of them live full and interesting lives.  Then there's my mother, who moved into a retirement community 6 years ago but hasn't allowed that to slow her down.  Well, maybe just a little.  I remember when my great Aunt Ruth was her age.  My mom would call me and say, "I'm so worried about Aunt Ruth.  She's slowing down."  And then tell a story about Aunt Ruth getting a speeding ticket.  When Aunt Ruth moved into a retirement community she was 90 and she wrote me a letter about the attractive men there!  So I imagine I have quite a few active elderly years ahead of me.

On the other hand, here's a limit to how far you can travel with the old saw about "You are only as old as you feel."  I mean there are things which, no matter how young I FEEL, it would be ludicrous for me to do.  Surfing comes to mind.  And coloring my hair platinum blond.  At my age, platinum blond would look more like Grandma Moses than Marilyn Monroe.  I notice my skin is getting drier and my hands are more wrinkly, but beyond that and some "creakiness" about my joints, I'm not deteriorating physically too much.  I still need to lose weight and exercise more, but that's the story of my life and has nothing to do with being elderly.  

So what's the big deal about "elderly"?  I think it is the fact that I'm much closer to the end of my story than the beginning.  It's been a really good story, all in all, and it's probably got some great chapters ahead of it, but I can see that the bookmark is moving much closer to the back cover and I don't want it to end just yet.  

I like to read my favorite books over and over again.  But I only get to go through MY story once.  This is probably the reason people write memoirs - or blogs.  

Enough, if something from our hands have power
To live and act and serve the future hour;
And if, as towards the silent tomb we go,
Through love, through hope, and faith's transcendent dower
We feel that we are greater than we know.
- William Wordsworth The River Duddon, 1820


  1. Well, the Platinum 'do is probably a bad idea, but you should reconsider surfing. You don't have to start at Makaha or Mavericks. You've been away from the coast a long time, it's true, but you get a nice big floating board to help!

  2. I agree with much of your post. As my father died of a heart attack at 48, I am often surprised to find myself alive at the age of 67. The world has changed quite a bit since I was a boy in Los Angeles and I am surprised not only to be alive but to find myself living on an island in Puget Sound, to have seen humans landing on the moon and to be the father of science fiction grandchild. There's a surprise around every corner. Sometimes they are good ones as when I looked out window and it's not raining, and sometimes they are just surprising ones as when my wife found an egg half the normal size in our chicken coop, and sometimes they are not so good ones as when the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, which is why I will send my contribution in to the Red Cross tomorrow. So, stay alive, stay cheerful, stay active, and stay prepared.

    your blog is rejecting my url--it may be in denial