That Moment When You Realize You’re Old

 

It happened to me last week during a conversation with my darling Auntie Pat. (Ninety-nine next month; may she live forever.)

I’d phoned her up, and after a false start in which she may have been holding the phone upside down and speaking into the earpiece (shades of my dad in the months before he died; of him shouting “I can’t hear you!” as from a great distance, and me bellowing at the top of my lungs: DAD!! TURN THE PHONE AROUND!!! to no avail).  Or perhaps she couldn’t find the button to turn the speaker on; something she really needs to do as her hearing continues to deteriorate. There are stories, told on the “Friends of Pat” network of her being overheard while she’s trying to answer the phone.  Of the answering machine coming on before she gets there, and of a bright, cheery voice saying, “Hello.  You’ve reached Pat’s phone.  She’s not here at the moment….”, while a grumpy elderly female (think the Dowager Countess), mutters–in the background–something like, “she bloody well is here, the bloody thing just doesn’t work….”

Bless.  A true Muffett, start to finish.  Proud to be of her lineage. Doing my best to uphold my end of the bargain.

So, anyway.  The other day, once we got things sorted and could hear each other across the miles, she was, as usual, charming, engaged, and perfectly on point.  A bit muddled about her birth date, it’s true–“I’ll be ninety-nine on the eighteenth of July!!” “Umm, Pat, I think it’s the thirteenth.”  “No, no, I’m sure it’s the eighteenth.”  Followed by a discussion of how she was born one day before her older brother Arthur’s birthday–“Yes, yes, he was born on the fourteenth,” and the final rather abashed admission, “Oh.  Yes. Perhaps my birthday is on the thirteenth.”

We got there in the end.

Then she started the interrogation:  “When’s your birthday?” she asked.  “Oh, not until September,” I replied.  “And how old will you be?”  “I’ll be sixty-eight.”

Now, every other time in my life, up to and including last year, when Pat and I have had this conversation and I’ve told her my age, she’s said something like, “Spring chicken!” or “Mere child!”  or “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Youth!”

Last week, when I confessed my upcoming chronological challenge she waited just a beat and then said:

Good Lord.  You’ll be catching up to me soon.

I won’t say I’m devastated, but it did give me pause.

(Not really.  If Pat’s anything to go by, I’ve got at least another three full and enchanting decades ahead of me.  And plenty of other role models in my family too, including Auntie Betty who enjoyed a torrid romance with her imaginary boyfriend, “John the King of China” in the years up to and following her centenary in this world.  May I, when I’m 102, have a nice boyfriend, even (perhaps preferably) an imaginary one.)

Has there been a moment in the lives of my fellow Ricochet geezers when external circumstances in the form of a reality check have suddenly intruded into your carefully constructed little world, and you’ve suddenly realized you’re old?  Please share.

The three youngest siblings, Pat (front) Isobel, and Dad, 1934.
They shall not grow old.

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  1. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Yeah, when I was given the news, ahead of everyone else in our department, of who my new boss would be.  The young (early 30s) lady who was our department intern while in college.  I only had 40 years on her.  And now, she has been promoted to Supply Chain Manager.  From what others still at the company say, she is very difficult to work with and for. She has no sense of humor at all, especially regarding her position and relationship to those who work under her.

    • #1
  2. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Oh my.

    The worst was several years ago.   The lovely Mrs E (who is 2 years my senior) and I accompanied our daughter on a recruitment trip to visit an elite women’s college in Massachusetts.   I got my a$& handed to as soon as we arrived.   The Admissions Officer looked us over and said to my daughter…

    ”How nice.  You brought your Mom and Grandpa”

    • #2
  3. She Member
    She
    @She

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Oh my.

    The worst was several years ago. The lovely Mrs E (who is 2 years my senior) and I accompanied our daughter on a recruitment trip to visit an elite women’s college in Massachusetts. I got my a$& handed to as soon as we arrived. The Admissions Officer looked us over and said to my daughter…

    ”How nice. You brought your Mom and Grandpa”

    Oh dear.  

    • #3
  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    I am nine years older than Ray.  More than once, I have been mistaken for his mother.  I always get a kick out of it, and usually laugh it off.  I am not ashamed to admit my advanced age (73), and have been told often that I don’t look that old.  

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    She: And plenty of other role models in my family too, including Auntie Betty who enjoyed a torrid romance with her imaginary boyfriend, “John the King of China” in the years up to and following her centenary in this world.

    Prester John? It was probably Prester John. The old boy sure got around.

    • #5
  6. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    She (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Oh my.

    The worst was several years ago. The lovely Mrs E (who is 2 years my senior) and I accompanied our daughter on a recruitment trip to visit an elite women’s college in Massachusetts. I got my a$& handed to as soon as we arrived. The Admissions Officer looked us over and said to my daughter…

    ”How nice. You brought your Mom and Grandpa”

    Oh dear.

    It’s a good thing she decided to go to college elsewhere.   Because even though they offered a 1/2 scholarship we were still on the hook for the other half … and 45 seconds into the visit I had already made up my mind that they weren’t getting a dime from me.

    • #6
  7. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    I turned 60 in  February.  That was when I had a realization.  At age 50 you can delude yourself into believing you’re going to live to be 100.  At 60, there’s no more pretending you’re not closer to the end than the beginning.

     

    Oh, I also found out recently that my boss’s parents are two years older than me.

     

     

    • #7
  8. Justin Other Lawyer Coolidge
    Justin Other Lawyer
    @DouglasMyers

    I’m now 50, so it’s probably excessive to try to argue that I’m old.  I don’t know whether I look my age, but here are a few relatively recent milestones that make me feel at least my age:

    1. It’s been at least 10 years since anyone asked to see my ID when purchasing alcohol.  
    2. I recently was taking two of my grandchildren on an amusement park ride (5 year old twins).  I forget how the conversation with the attendant went, but the part I do remember is that she just assumed they were my grandchildren.
    3. I can no longer get up from sitting on the floor without some discomfort.
    4. Most of my children are older than the college football players I enjoy watching on TV. 

    That’s probably enough.  I can’t remember any of the other reasons.

    • #8
  9. James Hageman Coolidge
    James Hageman
    @JamesHageman

    Maybe the surest sign we’re getting old is that we’re saying, “Oh dear,” so often. I think that when I was younger I had a spicier vocabulary, but maybe I forget.

    Oh dear.

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

    I think that moment came when I first looked in the mirror and saw my mother staring back at me. What a shock! Especially because I didn’t think I looked that much like her until then. But there was no ignoring the resemblance. Now, at 72, I don’t see myself as very old–compared to the age I could be! At least I hope I will be one day.

    • #10
  11. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    There’s a great story about a Supreme Court Justice … might have been Oliver Wendel Holmes … but it doesn’t really matter.   Whomever it was, he lived close to the Court, walked to work every day and was known to give a good quote so he’d attract a bevy of reporters on his way to work in the morning.   One blustery spring morning the skirt of an attractive young lady on the sidewalk ahead of them got caught by the wind and she had a Marilyn Monroe moment.   The Justice stopped to look … got a wistful look on his face and said …

    ”Oh, to be 60 again.”

    • #11
  12. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    The first time, just being polite, I advised a friend (with 4 children) and himself a Jr. Hi principle that I wanted to include him as a reference on a resume.  And he responded along the lines of “You wanted to get the younger people in there, eh?”

    Or maybe it was when they didn’t want me to climb the stepladder to put up a sign at church – because of my age.

    • #12
  13. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Justin Other Lawyer (View Comment):

    It’s been at least 10 years since anyone asked to see my ID when purchasing alcohol.

    One of the things about buying beer at the grocery store here is that they are required by law to check your age.  Sure seems silly when you have grey hair and are 74 years old.

    • #13
  14. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    We both felt old whenever we had gone  to a clinic and the medical staff  looked to be  in college.

    But that was in the good old days.

    As we have started piling up the decades, the doctors no longer seem to be college-aged, but HS-aged.

    And once in a while, like children!

    When you hear, “Paging Dr Toddler, to the med center” then you wonder if your choice of clinics was the right one.

    • #14
  15. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    We both felt old whenever we had gone to a clinic and the medical staff looked to be in college.

    But that was in the good old days.

    As we have started piling up the decades, the doctors no longer seem to be college-aged, but HS-aged.

    And once in a while, like children!

    When you hear, “Paging Dr Toddler, to the med center” then you wonder if your choice of clinics was the right one.

    Yes, when our last Doctor retired and his children took over that was an eye-opener.

    • #15
  16. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Well, I got a hint years ago when I received an announcement about a college graduation along with some pictures. I looked at the picture of the college kid and the father and thought, “WTF? I changed that kid’s diapers a few years ago. Not the graduate’s, you see, but her father’s.” 

    • #16
  17. She Member
    She
    @She

    Thanks for the great (and revealing) comments, all!

    I’ve been a in a generational scramble all my life.  Dad was the fifth-youngest of six, a passel of kids that stretched from 1907 (Arthur) to 1923 (Pat).    My mother was the older of two, born in 1928, and almost ten years younger than Dad.  So, my grandparents came from two entirely different generations, one firmly moored in the third-quarter of the nineteenth century, and the other on the cusp of the 20th. 

    Mr. She and I were sixteen years apart in age, and yet his mother (a young bride) was almost exactly the same age as my father.  In the early years of our relationship, I was often mistaken for his daughter; that (rather depressingly from my POV) changed as we aged, and somehow, for a period of time we seemed, agewisedly appropriate together.  Then he became very ill, aged rather quickly, and we were back to the father/daughter relationship as assumed by strangers.

    His kids (my stepchildren) were 11, 13, and 15 years younger than I.  Much opportunity for confusion there, even when it came to girlfriends.  Sam had a lovely young red-headed girlfriend who was regularly assumed to be my younger sister.  Year after year, at goat shows (seriously) I reveled in that assumption, and then one year, in an elevator somewhere, somebody said something about “mother and daughter.”

    LOL.  One of those moments.

    And yet.  I persist.

     

    • #17
  18. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    There’s a great story about a Supreme Court Justice … might have been Oliver Wendel Holmes … but it doesn’t really matter. Whomever it was, he lived close to the Court, walked to work every day and was known to give a good quote so he’d attract a bevy of reporters on his way to work in the morning. One blustery spring morning the skirt of an attractive young lady on the sidewalk ahead of them got caught by the wind and she had a Marilyn Monroe moment. The Justice stopped to look … got a wistful look on his face and said …

    ”Oh, to be 60 again.”

    I know the feeling.

    • #18
  19. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    Still at it these days, but it does give me pause when I realize that some of my current clients are my other long-time clients’ children and now even grandchildren  . . . I say I have a multi-generational practice.  Been at it twice as long as some of these kids have been alive.

    Come by it honestly, though: my own dad worked till he was 85, and my maternal great grandfather worked his little farm till he was 92, then took a part-time custodian position in the town library (had to retire after a fall from a stepladder at 94 — no injuries but to his pride), and lived to 104.

     

    • #19
  20. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    She: Has there been a moment in the lives of my fellow Ricochet geezers when external circumstances in the form of a reality check have suddenly intruded into your carefully constructed little world, and you’ve suddenly realized you’re old? 

    When I got my Charter Member badge.

    • #20
  21. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    The Admissions Officer looked us over and said to my daughter…

    ”How nice.  You brought your Mom and Grandpa”

    When I was a lot younger, I was on a business trip with two colleagues–one male and one female.  When we got to the hotel check-in desk, the clerk asked: “Is this all one family?”

    Nice recovery on the part of the other guy: “Well, sure, you could say our company is like one big family!”

    • #21
  22. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    She: Has there been a moment in the lives of my fellow Ricochet geezers when external circumstances in the form of a reality check have suddenly intruded into your carefully constructed little world, and you’ve suddenly realized you’re old?

    When I got my Charter Member badge.

    Dinosaur!

    Oh, wait …

    • #22
  23. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Oh cry me a river, I still haven’t recovered from learning the high schools are teaching Vietnam as a unit in history class. My ex-husband is 8 years younger than I, and we never noticed it at all most of the time. But once we were in the car and the radio was playing Rare Earth’s version of the Temptations song “Get Ready,” and I said the Temptations one was better, and he’d never even heard of it. He actually thought the Rare Earth version was the original. I mean really.

    • #23
  24. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    When the 20-something intern at work told us that, not only had she never seen an episode of Cheers, she’d never even heard of it.

    • #24
  25. Justin Other Lawyer Coolidge
    Justin Other Lawyer
    @DouglasMyers

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    When the 20-something intern at work told us that, not only had she never seen an episode of Cheers, she’d never even heard of it.

    I assume you fired her on the spot. 

    • #25
  26. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Oh cry me a river, I still haven’t recovered from learning the high schools are teaching Vietnam as a unit in history class. My ex-husband is 8 years younger than I, and we never noticed it at all most of the time. But once we were in the car and the radio was playing Rare Earth’s version of the Temptations song “Get Ready,” and I said the Temptations one was better, and he’d never even heard of it. He actually thought the Rare Earth version was the original. I mean really.

    Five Man Electrical Band’s version of “Signs” was better than Tesla’s.

    But as far as “Muskrat Love” (covered by both America and The Captain and Tennille) … sorry; the song itself was garbage. You can’t polish that turd.

    • #26
  27. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    I have two neighborhood friends who joke with each other about their birthdays. Every year one says “I caught you again.” The other then says “Just wait a month.” They’re both 82 at the moment. I laugh, but then realize I’m  only 10 years behind them.

    • #27
  28. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    When you are working with PhD students and they were born while you were in high school.

    When people list the game you played in high school as a retro classic.

     

    • #28
  29. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Oh cry me a river, I still haven’t recovered from learning the high schools are teaching Vietnam as a unit in history class. My ex-husband is 8 years younger than I, and we never noticed it at all most of the time. But once we were in the car and the radio was playing Rare Earth’s version of the Temptations song “Get Ready,” and I said the Temptations one was better, and he’d never even heard of it. He actually thought the Rare Earth version was the original. I mean really.

    When I was hired back in the Second Age of Middle Earth, they called us The Mushrooms. We were all waiting for our first security clearances so they kept us in the dark, covered us with manure, and eventually canned a few of us. The system we eventually did was for a couple of the three-letters and now you can see it in the Smithsonian. That made all of us feel old even though a couple of us weren’t. 

    • #29
  30. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    • #30
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