Old Age seems to have acquired a bad reputation. This, in my opinion, is a shame. Of course, old age presents itself with many challenges. Everybody I know copes with at least one of them. Recently, an old friend asked me how I was doing. I replied that, in spite of dimming of eyesight, loss of hearing, loss of hair, loss of balance and loss of memory, I was absolutely fine. I am aware of how lucky I am – any potential heart issues are being handled by my cardiologist and an unpronounceable pill. So far, I have avoided the major health scares that can happen at any age.
As far as I can tell, there are two very common problems in dealing with old age. One is the onslaught of arthritis, and the other is depression. Both are painful and debilitating, almost impossible to “cure.” Maybe we try to pretend that they don’t exist. We all try our best to be “normal”, whatever that is. A friend of mine once said to me “don’t ask her how she is. You might find out!” My response to all of this is the tried and true “Beats the alternative”.
At this time in my life, to be told I look 70 is a definite compliment. My daughter will be 70 next spring, so even I can see the difference! But, at the age of 96, I can definitely see the plusses. Let me name just a few: There is a charming tendency to treat me as a fragile specimen under glass – a tendency to be cultivated for all it’s worth! The offer of an arm to help me get from A to B, which I accept more often than not. The assumption that Grandma will sit in the front passenger seat is an unexpected perk. The knowledge that I don’t have to make decisions of consequence anymore. I still do it, but they are scrutinized and analyzed by my skeptical children. I could be irritated by this, but actually it makes me feel safe. The feeling that if I do something really stupid it will be understood – it goes with the territory.
I love the fact that I never, ever have to wear a bathing suit again or high heeled shoes. That’s a start. My list of “Don’t Have To’s” is too long to share, and I probably wouldn’t remember half of them anyway.
There is much I still want and need to do. There will be a new grandchild to marvel at. There is a wedding party I need to get to next year. There will be changes in jobs and addresses I’m curious about. There are more summer sunsets to view from my deck in Maine, and new moons to make a wish on. Oh Yes – there is more writing to do! A while ago I wrote a story called “God’s Waiting Room”. I don’t mind being there, but I love being 96, so don’t rush me!
StoneRidge Resident – Lucy Burr