Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Aging


Someone told me recently that I am "young at heart". That sounds good to me.

I guess I am young at heart. I hope so. Seventy-six sounds so very, very old. Well, it IS very, very old. I do get annoyed at doctors when I mention my age. Every one of them immediately interrupts me to assure me that age is only a number and I should be "thinking young". Doctors, of all people, should be able to deal with the fact of age - and help us deal with it. You learn not to mention the word "age" or the word "death" to a doctor. They jump right on it and decide that you m
ust be depressed. I am not depressed. But I am intelligent enough to know that I am old, and that I will die soon. It shouldn't come as news to them, nor to anyone. It doesn't bother me - It's just a fact of life. You live, you grow old, and eventually you die. I don't think death is anything to fear, or even to worry about, so why are they so touchy about it?

The thing is, people keep suggesting things like going to the Senior Center. I don't do that. It's fine for a lot of people. It isn't for me. I don't like old people much. One at a time - or a couple - that's OK. We enjoy conversation, reminisce. We have the same memories, and that's a good thing. But a whole room full of old people? No thank you. I enjoy being with young people, or with a group of all ages together. Old people forget things, and repeat themselves. Oh, yes. I forget things all the time, and repeat myself, too. But I don't want to listen to all those other old people doing it. And some old people are really rude! They seem to think that age gives them the right to do and say whatever they please, regardless of what it does to the people around them. Or maybe they are angry and frustrated because they are unable to do things they used to, and they take it out on others.

The
re's a problem with being young at heart. You forget that the body just won't cooperate any more. You try to jump up impulsively and do whatever it is you just thought of, only you're stopped halfway through the jump, and you have to sit back down and rethink it.

Perversely, I get very impatient with my children because they don't seem to understand that I am old. They expect me to act just the way I used to. I can't. I think that adult children tend to continue for a long time to think of their parents as they did when they were twelve years old. And even later, as they begin to realize that the parent is older, they really don't want to believe that he or she is no longer able to do things as they used to. It took me about a year and a half to persuade my son to build me a handicap ramp. He kept telling me I didn't need one. Ironically, th
e incident that finally did persuade him and sent him running out to buy the lumber, really had nothing to do with my need for it. He saw me fall. I was just walking across the lawn, and must have slipped or something, and went down. It made an impression on him, even though I wasn't struggling to get up the steps.

It's kind of weird being old, and not feeling old. If I'm in
a crowded waiting room, and an elderly person comes in, I still feel the impulse to jump up and give them my seat. And it still takes me by surprise when people do something like that for me. But it's nice!

The gray hair and the cane definitely do bring certain advantages.




16 comments:

kenju said...

Bobbie, I love what you said about a room full of old people, and I couldn't agree more! I enjoy people of all ages, and the oldies tend to gripe all the time and don't seem to enjoy what time they have left. You and I would get along great!!

For The People said...

Great post! Good Morning from Mississippi, USA. I hope this message find all is well. Have a great week. Keep up the great work here!

Tranny Head said...

I'm glad you wrote this post - my mom is always saying that I don't cut her any slack because she's old . . . though in my defense I don't think she's old. She's only 60. That, in my books, isn't old - I say you're not old until you're 80.

Also - I'm pretty sure I'm going to be one of those old crones you're talking about who is a royal pain in the arse. I'm already like that and I'm still in my 20's!

Judy said...

I just love this post! I totally agree with everything you just said. My kids think I am still a young thing. I was stupid enough to let my girls talk me into doing a three mile foot race about two years ago and I was not in shape to do it. I finished the race and it nearly killed me. I had to sit on the street curb for at least 45 minutes and recuperate! I have 10 screws and a plate in my left foot where I fell back in the 90s and broke every bone in my foot and then I was stupid enough to try that race. I think twice now before I let them talk me into something. Thanks for a great entry.

Singing Bear said...

I love this post, Bobbie. You would be welcome in my house any day. You'd have some middle aged company and my young kids and their friends to keep all ages are together. We've all so much to learn from one another.

I know what you mean about childern not accepting the aging process in their own parents. It has taken me until very recently to accept that my mum is 77 and my dad is 80. My dad, especially, has always seemed so young and he has always been there to help any family members. He's a very pratical man with lots of skills in the kind of things I can't deal with...plumbing, electrics, the car, building work etc. He had to teach himself most of it. It seems people of his generation could turn their hands to so many things. They had to - who else was going to do it? Now, I have to try to stop myself from asking him to mend things for me. I think he'd love to be able to continue to do all this stuff but he's gradually beginning to feel it, although in his head he's still in his 20's. He drives like a maniac, by the way, and this isn't due to age: He thinks he's a boy racer!

Age has caught up with my mum a lot more quickly. She finds it hard to walk after a hip replacement, which clearly didn't do much good and she has problems with her ankles and her feet. She does get despondent.

As for aging myself - after over a year now of serious illness for which I continue to require treatment, I'm looking forward to the chance to get old! I hope I'm as young-at-heart as you are when I get there!

Peace.

bobbie said...

kenjo, for the people, tranny and judy: I do think it's good for all of us to interact rather than isolating each group with its own. But age does manage to catch up with us eventually

Bear: I am so delighted to hear from you again. Do keep commenting on posts or anything else that might pop into your head, whenever you can do it. We miss you already, and its only been a few days. Your father sounds a lot like the sort of man my husband was. He would have been 85 this year. I often think he would not have remained a happy man, had he outlived what he would have considered his usefulness. I think it may be harder for a man than for a woman.

Peace to you, my friend.

Bear Naked said...

Yes, if only my old body could keep up to the old mind imagine what I could accomplish!

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hello! I think as we age our bodies naturally get grumpy with us. I know myself what I could do twenty years ago and I have to push my body to do the same today. Most times the body wins, but I keep trying and sometimes I win. I always say that our mind should age with our body. But unfortunately it doesn't. So as frustrating as it is, I keep doing my thing and enjoying as much as I can.

As far as dying - I am not afraid to die. I don't want to anytime soon, but I'm not afraid and I don't think anyone should. I don't know, I just always think of dying as going to sleep. I know - I know sounds stupid, but that's the way I feel.

Now for the kids. We are all aging and finding ourself with some limitations that we are reluctant to admit are there. We don't want to think that our parents are getting older and may die some time soon so it is easier and sometimes better to think that our parents are still able to do what they used to do years ago. I'm not saying that you are blaming your kids, I know your not, but sometimes it is hard for us to face realty, or morality as it is. I know it is frustrating at times, but just bear with us. We mean well and well we just love ya.

I hope that this makes sense. As per the norm, my words are not coming to me easily. Lisa

Dianne said...

Bobbie - the next time I mention that you're wise or level headed or insightful or thoughtful - all those things I've called you before and you said - who me!? well - I'm going to refer to this post as proof of all those things.

I know I'm not old (52) but I am older than I was - brilliant eh? My son often gets nervous if I have an ache or if the work schedule gets to me. He once said if I couldn't do something then who could? I told him he could.

Donna said...

Beautiful and well written post. Life, death, from the first breath it is the beginning of the end. I am almost twenty years younger than you, and can identify with all you have penned. We have made death a tabo topic in this culture and more the pity because we need to accept the inevitable. I want to die with pride and dignity, and without upsetting all who will survive. I don't want to be a loss, I would prefer to be talked and giggled about, then I will have lived and died with grace.

me ann my camera said...

Oh, I could write reams of lines in response to this. I identify with this in a lot of ways for I am rather on the decline in years too.
An old lady, in her 60's, dropped into my house the other night collecting money for a fund raiser and I was being a bit patronizing perhaps when I was praising here on her project which involves walking 5 km. And she in response said, "Well, I'm getting old now and mentioned her upcoming birthday. Shock!!! She was younger than me! I keep forgetting that I am getting there too. This was a lovely read; inspiring.

LeenaM said...

I am 65 years old and had got some deceaces, but anyway, I myself forgot many times, that i am that old. I have not even used to see my mirror picture, it has changed so soon during last years :)

I asked my husband ( 70 in August ) to read this your wise and cheerful post.
We laughed together and remembered ( ! ) my mom, who said, that she wouldn`t go to the some meetings, because "there are only those old people". Now I understand, what she was saying and meaning.

Thanks for this post, I am still smiling :)

Shelly said...

I loved this post Bobbie.
When my dad had to spend a few weeks in a care facility he refused to take his meals in the dining room with the rest of the residents, he said "it's full of old people!", I can still see the face he pulled when he said that...it makes me smile.

Suzi-k said...

this is a great post bobbie, so honest and down to earth, just telling it like it is! I also shock people when i talk matter of factly about death as a fact of life, i can't understand why people act as if they are going to live forever, and skirt around the issue. I guess when you talk about it to a doctor, who has been trained to believe he can fix anything, it is like pointing out his failure because old age is one thing he CAN'T cure! I like your gracious no-nonsense approach to life and I bet it explains why you have not become a cranky old lady!

Pagan Sphinx said...

"I think that adult children tend to continue for a long time to think of their parents as they did when they were twelve years old. And even later, as they begin to realize that the parent is older, they really don't want to believe that he or she is no longer able to do things as they used to."

I am certainly guilty of this with my mother, who is almost 78. To me, she's still my beautiful mom. She's always reminding me, though. Today she was showing me her hands and how they've changed. I had to look really hard to see what she meant. I just don't think of her as old. You're right.

BNS said...

Hi Bobbie -

I discovered your blog when I saw a comment of yours on another blog. I saw "Bobbie" and did a double take, because my name is Bobbie, too.

I've just read several of your articles, including this one, and I liked what I read -- so I'll be coming back.

This article on Aging really rang a lot of bells for me. I'm in my 60s, and I, too, feel young in my mind, but my body tells me otherwise.

At the same time, though, aging has its advantages. For example, when I travel by myself, I've noticed that there are always plenty of young men who volunteer to carry things for me, or to lift my laptop case into the overhead bin on the plane. I say "thank you," and let them do it!

Cheers!

Bobbie