(A very special blogger, Pam Antonivich, who wrote at "Mind Trips" departed this life on April 4 this year. I stopped by her blog for a visit recently and was saddened to learn she would be writing there no longer. She successfully enjoyed life despite the effects of ALS. I had found her blog by randomly selecting it from the blog roll on "Time Goes By" and wrote my impressions on 12/11/07. She was a remarkable lady and artist adapting her talents as her functional skills changed over time.)
WHO'S OLD ?
Many of us have probably recognized instances in which we've come to realize we have slipped into that group society now regards as "old." I think "old" is a relative term, depending on where we fall on the age continuum as to who we regard as "old." As a young grade school student, I thought high schoolers epitomized the peak of adulthood and everyone past their age was well on their way to being old, others even ancient.
Then, when I was in high school, those in their twenties, maybe thirties, too, were certainly the "older adults." People in their fifties, sixties, much less those in the following decades were either "getting old" or were "really old." Even when I was in my forties, fifties, entering my early sixties, those whose age was beyond my own were the ones occupying that "old" category which I had still not yet entered. This isn't to say I discounted all these "older" adults at my various ages. I had been taught to respect my elders, even if I might not agree with some of their tastes and viewpoints, especially if they seemed mired in the past.
I didn't associate getting older as a negative, either, unlike the revulsion or fear expressed by some of my contemporaries. Perhaps my experiences with "older" people had been more positive than those less tolerant. Maybe I had been more fortunate in the interactions with my grandmother (other "grands" were deceased,) most relatives and adult family friends.
When I think of "old" I'm often reminded of my Mom telling me about her friends and conversations they had about activities of other people in her senior citizen community. I was in my forties or fifties then. She and her friends ranged in age from seventy to eighty. Occasionally, she unsuccessfully tried to recall the name of someone she and her friends all knew, and to whom some interesting event had occurred that she wanted to relate to me. Exasperatedly, when the name didn't come to her, she would utter, "Oh, you know, that old man/woman that lives down next to Myrtle" or whoever. I knew who she meant, someone who, coincidentally, was also her contemporary. Interestingly, she didn't describe herself or her friends as old, nor did they -- just all those other people were "old." They weren't in age denial either, since they freely spoke of their actual age.
Aging in my family has simply been been a matter of fact happening that everyone experiences. I've never been quite able to understand fighting against this natural process, as I've tried to focus my energies on matters on which I have greater influence. This isn't to say I haven't considered the benefits of having the physical body, strength and endurance I had at younger ages. There are limits as to how much is within my control - despite what some of the "eternal youth," "turn back the clock," or "slow the process" marketers promote in the name of selling their various products.
So, here I am still traipsing around in the later decades of my life, and it's still all the people beyond my age that are "old." I experience the vagaries of life and aging. I still care about and am as interested in life as I ever was, but sometimes in different ways. I think people of all ages who maintain an underlying sense of hope toward life may experience more happiness than those who do not. I still have hopes, dreams for my future.