Grateful to be Old (Which is Better than the Alternative)

 

Do you remember a time when being old earned the respect and kindness of others? Some of you may have been born after that time passed, but I certainly remember treating my elders with deference. Most of them, unless they offered otherwise, we addressed as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” And we never gave it a second thought.

Now it seems that no one in their “later years” wants to be labeled “old.” We now use terms like seniors, pensioners, retirees, and other euphemisms, often subtly insulting terms, others blatant in their crudeness. Some people offer the comment, “You’re only as old as you feel,” which is partly true, but the calendar would take issue with us, as well as the maladies of old age. Then there are the wrinkles, discolored skin, and absent-mindedness.

So many old people want to find ways to escape the truth. Denial shows up with clothes that are too young for them and hair dying; women seem to get satisfaction out of refusing to tell their age. Other people, men and women, keep incredibly busy, sometimes beyond their stamina and limitations. I wonder sometimes if they are running away from the specter of death.

Unlike some of my old colleagues, I choose to do the best I can to face and embrace being old. And I have many ways of doing so. First, I try to deal with life as it is. Reality can sometimes be painful, but it also allows me to function in the world with integrity, honesty, and even joy. Although I acknowledge that I have limitations, I am growing more comfortable every day in my own skin. More and more, I’ve gotten to know myself better; I’m doing a better job of knowing my quirks (which I embrace at my age), my better attributes, the activities that I find deeply rewarding, and those that I must complete in spite of my resistance.

I’ve worked hard to realize a sense of well-being: I eat right most of the time (except for chocolate chip cookies), exercise moderately, try to accept things as they come, and reach out to others, either to be a good friend, or seek their input. I’ve learned to be picky about how I spend my time, with others or alone. I still take risks, but know that I do so to challenge myself, not to prove anything to others. If fear causes me to hesitate to act, I try to look into the source of the fear and ask myself if I am needlessly limiting myself or using good judgment.

And in spite of some who disdain the old, I so appreciate those who open a door for me when I enter a building. I’m fascinated by the diversity of helpers—white, black, Hispanic, men and women, young and old—whom I always thank with a smile.

I like being old. I guess you could say I don’t have a choice, although I know plenty of people who complain about their seniority. I try not to complain—at least not too much—and celebrate that I feel blessed by G-d, my friendships, my husband, and life itself.

I am old and delighted to be experiencing life at the ripe old age of 72.

[photo courtesy of unsplash.com]

Published in Culture
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 57 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    I think it was Richard Pryor who said you don’t get old being weak or stupid. 

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Django (View Comment):

    I think it was Richard Pryor who said you don’t get old being weak or stupid. 

     

    Love it, Django! He was right!

    • #2
  3. DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax)
    @DonG

    pensioners,

     

    hmmm.

    • #3
  4. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Agree.  If you check my profile, written in 2012, it says “old.”  Maybe now it should say “even older.”

    This is part of the culture which encourages everything to be expressed in the most euphemistic terms possible.

    • #4
  5. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Agree. If you check my profile, written in 2012, it says “old.” Maybe now it should say “even older.”

    This is part of the culture which encourages everything to be expressed in the most euphemistic terms possible.

    First, it’s “You look younger than your age”. After a few years they progress to, “You’re very well-preserved!”

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Maybe now it should say “even older.”

    I like that–even older will be my updated moniker, Hoyacon!

    • #6
  7. Chris Williamson Member
    Chris Williamson
    @ChrisWilliamson

    I led our Toastmasters meeting this week, and the theme was “youth and age”; our oldest member is 92, and a number of us are retired. What I thought was funny was all the discussion of “stupid things that I did when I was young.” It seems that the young look at the old as feeble, and the old look at the young as lacking judgment.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Chris Williamson (View Comment):
    It seems that the young look at the old as feeble, and the old look at the young as lacking judgment.

    No kidding! I think that “lacking judgment” is an understatement, Chris! And I’ll bet that everyone who was older would in no way want to return to the good ol’ days either. I remember only too well the pains of adolescence and rejection. It sounds like it was a fun time at your meeting.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

     

    • #9
  10. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    Chris Williamson (View Comment):

    I led our Toastmasters meeting this week, and the theme was “youth and age”; our oldest member is 92, and a number of us are retired. What I thought was funny was all the discussion of “stupid things that I did when I was young.” It seems that the young look at the old as feeble, and the old look at the young as lacking judgment.

    This reminds me of a ‘T-Shirt’ I saw once that said (paraphrasing)… “Getting older doesn’t mean you stop doing stupid things.  You just do them more slowly!”

    I also like:

    “Don’t tell me to act my age.  I’ve never been this old before”

     

    • #10
  11. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    I enjoy bringing up that I’m old as an opening to discussing technology with young people. Also in the last several months my oldness gives me openings to discuss some of the economic issues we had when my wife and I were newlyweds (in 1981) and how some of those issues are returning. I bring up my oldness to let my younger conversation participant know that I know I’m old, and I’m not going to pretend to be young and with-it. May work for me because I was never young and with-it. I was born a 30 year old. 

    Susan Quinn: Although I acknowledge that I have limitations, I am growing more comfortable every day in my own skin.

    In my opinion, acknowledging limitations allows me to actually do more. Since climbing stairs wasn’t going to get easier, we moved from a three story house to a one story house. But now I do more around the house because I don’t have to climb stairs or a ladder. I can wash the outside of all the windows in my one story house in a little more than an hour, so I wash the windows more often than I did in the three story house, and thus Mrs. Tabby and I are looking through cleaner windows. 

    • #11
  12. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Susan Quinn: I like being old.

    And maybe it gets tiresome to hear, but I like saying that I remember something from a half-century ago. :)

    A little more seriously, I never thought I’d get this old (never thought I’d make it to 30), and I have just a handful of years before I reach my average lifespan from when I was a child.  Either way, I think I’m going out a winner — timewise.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    I enjoy bringing up that I’m old as an opening to discussing technology with young people. Also in the last several months my oldness gives me openings to discuss some of the economic issues we had when my wife and I were newlyweds (in 1981) and how some of those issues are returning. I bring up my oldness to let my younger conversation participant know that I know I’m old, and I’m not going to pretend to be young and with-it. May work for me because I was never young and with-it. I was born a 30 year old.

    Susan Quinn: Although I acknowledge that I have limitations, I am growing more comfortable every day in my own skin.

    In my opinion, acknowledging limitations allows me to actually do more. Since climbing stairs wasn’t going to get easier, we moved from a three story house to a one story house. But now I do more around the house because I don’t have to climb stairs or a ladder. I can wash the outside of all the windows in my one story house in a little more than an hour, so I wash the windows more often than I did in the three story house, and thus Mrs. Tabby and I are looking through cleaner windows.

    Good for you on all counts, FST! We moved from a two-story home to a one-story and I don’t miss the stairs one bit! But I have to admit, I don’t do windows. ;-)

    And I don’t think I was born “older,” but I don’t think I’ve ever been with-it. And it ain’t gonna happen now!

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I like being old.

    And maybe it gets tiresome to hear, but I like saying that I remember something from a half-century ago. :)

    A little more seriously, I never thought I’d get this old (never thought I’d make it to 30), and I have just a handful of years before I reach my average lifespan from when I was a child. Either way, I think I’m going out a winner — timewise.

    oooh–half a century! I’ll make a note of that one, too!

    • #14
  15. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Django (View Comment):
    First, it’s “You look younger than your age”. After a few years they progress to, “You’re very well-preserved!”

    It’s been a long time since I’ve heard those words directed at me.

    • #15
  16. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    I was born a 30 year old.

    You mean you’re not hip, mod, with-it, and now?

    GroovyCool.  Swell.

    • #16
  17. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    I fear Biden is harming the image of oldsters.  

    • #17
  18. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    So what age is considered old?  I turned 60 in December. There are times I feel it but then other times I don’t. If I can avoid looking in the mirror I sometimes almost get the sense I’m still young!

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Manny (View Comment):

    So what age is considered old? I turned 60 in December. There are times I feel it but then other times I don’t. If I can avoid looking in the mirror I sometimes almost get the sense I’m still young!

    We get to choose when we call ourselves old, Manny. It’s a perk of old age. You can even change your mind from one day to the next!

    • #19
  20. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    I fear Biden is harming the image of oldsters.

    Are you kidding?  With his age and infirmities, being president of the United States?  Gives me hope.

    • #20
  21. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Manny (View Comment):

    So what age is considered old? I turned 60 in December. There are times I feel it but then other times I don’t. If I can avoid looking in the mirror I sometimes almost get the sense I’m still young!

    Just out of curiosity (part of an on-going musing) how old do you feel?  When you think of yourself, and see yourself with your mind’s eye, in that first instant, how old do see yourself?

    • #21
  22. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    My next-door neighbor and friend in my teen-age years used to say that he did not think life was worth living after forty. I wonder if he’s still alive and what he thinks about it now.

    • #22
  23. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So what age is considered old? I turned 60 in December. There are times I feel it but then other times I don’t. If I can avoid looking in the mirror I sometimes almost get the sense I’m still young!

    Just out of curiosity (part of an on-going musing) how old do you feel? When you think of yourself, and see yourself with your mind’s eye, in that first instant, how old do see yourself?

    I don’t exactly know, but I don’t feel 60.  If I can avoid mirrors I tend to think of myself as 20 years younger.  But then I sprint across the street or something and I realize I am not.

    • #23
  24. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Manny (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    So what age is considered old? I turned 60 in December. There are times I feel it but then other times I don’t. If I can avoid looking in the mirror I sometimes almost get the sense I’m still young!

    Just out of curiosity (part of an on-going musing) how old do you feel? When you think of yourself, and see yourself with your mind’s eye, in that first instant, how old do see yourself?

    I don’t exactly know, but I don’t feel 60. If I can avoid mirrors I tend to think of myself as 20 years younger. But then I sprint across the street or something and I realize I am not.

    Well, you look good or 60.  I think of myself as various ages, but, oddly, none of them have gray hair.

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JoelB (View Comment):

    My next-door neighbor and friend in my teen-age years used to say that he did not think life was worth living after forty. I wonder if he’s still alive and what he thinks about it now.

    Joel, I had a friend whose father died at 40 and he was certain he would, too. I don’t know his status either. My best years have been after 40!

    • #25
  26. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    I love being old. All the pressure is off. You don’t have to worry about impressing anyone, and you can get away with a lot, like wearing the same sweatshirt for three years running.

    If I could just get my back straightened out, life would be just about perfect.

    • #26
  27. Terri Mauro Coolidge
    Terri Mauro
    @TerriMauro

    I am a very short person (4 foot 10 for most of my adult life), and since people seem to make age judgments based on height, no one ever takes me for my correct age. Which sounds good by today’s youthfulness-seeking standards, but leads to things like a lunch lady at my daughter’s middle school yelling me to get back to class when I was going to volunteer at the library. Not looking old gets old, you know?

    My mom went gray very young, so I’ve been waiting for those gray hairs to come along and prove me to be a mature if diminutive person, but … here I am at almost 63, and the mousy brown is still hanging in there. Maybe I need to think about dying my hair white.

    I definitely do feel old, though. I’ve taken a lot of falls on a lot of sidewalks in my life and boinged right back up, but about a year and a half ago I fell and sprained my ankle (and, as became apparent after the ankle pain went away, screwed up my shoulder in some way), and now I only take walks slowly while clutching my husband’s arm. I’ve thought about getting one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” things for walking around the house, just in case. Those bad falls shake your confidence.

    I also seem to have accumulated a large amount of medications in recent years—blood pressure pills and statins and osteoporosis pills and eye shots for macular degeneration and eye vitamins and vitamin D and what-all, until I’ve become that old lady who forgets to take something or takes the wrong thing at the right time. Makes me feel ancient.

    But mostly, I feel like Douglas:

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):
    I love being old. All the pressure is off. You don’t have to worry about impressing anyone, and you can get away with a lot, like wearing the same sweatshirt for three years running.

    My goal is to get to the point where I can wear sneakers instead of high heels to a wedding.

    • #27
  28. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    JoelB (View Comment):

    My next-door neighbor and friend in my teen-age years used to say that he did not think life was worth living after forty. I wonder if he’s still alive and what he thinks about it now.

    Remember  a rock song with the imbecilic  line “hope I die before I get old”?

    • #28
  29. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Django (View Comment):

    I think it was Richard Pryor who said you don’t get old being weak or stupid.

    Cohen the Barbarian agrees. Or would agree if he could read.

    • #29
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):
    My goal is to get to the point where I can wear sneakers instead of high heels to a wedding.

    I’ve taken my share of spills, too, Terri, and finally had to take smaller steps and slow down a bit. I make up for it on the treadmill where I can hang on. I stopped wearing heels a long time ago–now you can only find 4″ heels in the stores! I have a very pretty pair of flats that I plan on wearing to a wedding, and a pair of short boots to a rehearsal dinner. I haven’t graduated to sneakers yet!

    I hate all the meds, too, and resist whenever they want to add to the list. But they keep us alive and well. Sigh.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.