What’s age got to do with it? According to my 96-year-old mother, NOTHING! I notice that she is never focused on how old she is and is always surprised at the reactions of others when they ask her age. Mom inspires others to think the same way just by being herself.
It’s not like she hasn’t experienced losses that remind her how old she is because she has. Mom is the only remaining member of her immediate family and the last of her friends. I can’t even imagine that. I’d be curled up in a ball somewhere. Not her. Even though she has had her share of losses, it isn’t a place where she dwells for very long.
I am on a rowing team with 22 other women. The youngest is 27, the oldest is…well, me. The fact that there is a 42 year difference between us doesn’t register. Actually, I take that back! Writing it here makes me want to breathe in a bag! Seriously though, it doesn’t stop me from participating and it certainly has never stopped Mom. She goes to a gym twice a week. She walks around her neighborhood, with the help of her aide, at least once a day. Her aide comes from 8 to 1pm, 6 days a week. One Sunday she told me she was going to walk outside to get some fresh air by herself. I remind her to take her walker after I am able to catch my breath. “Oh, I’ll be fine.” is her response. “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” I scream inside myself but outwardly I remind her in as calm a voice as possible, that if she fell she’d not be a happy camper. “Okay, I won’t!” Whew! It’s like telling a teenager what the possible consequences could be for their actions. And, you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
It’s not like she hasn’t experienced losses that remind her how old she is because she has.
What’s age got to do with it? That’s the look on her face when my sister Linda and I say, “Mom the doctor said you need to walk with your walker in the house.” She sustains that look and says, “I’m experimenting. I want to challenge myself. I walk close to things so I can grab on and I haven’t had to grab yet.” While challenging herself she has been overheard saying, “I did it. I did it.” Who can argue with that?
What’s age got to do with it? Nothing.
I began writing this blog to let the world know we are not a stereotypical group of people growing older. I wonder where I got that from. I’m not saying you have to do it Mom’s way. However, every time you begin to think, “Well at my age I can’t do that or I shouldn’t do this…”
Remember. Make up your own rules.
Let’s go for it together! I’m game.
Hope you are too.
Originally posted 2016-05-12 21:33:46.
“Well, at your age”…” If I hear that one more time,” that’s what my mother-in-law Zelda would say with such drama and sarcasm. Ya well, I’m beginning to relate. I asked my 96-year-old Mom if her doctor ever used that phrase? She said yes he had but only once. How did she get him to stop saying it, I inquired. “All I said was, how old are you doctor? He said he was 52. You know at your age lots of things are beginning to happen. Right? Would you like me to remind you of that fact every time I saw you?” While talking to the doctor Mom said all she could think about was that ‘little blue pill!’
Washington Post had an article in the Health & Science section by Steven Petrow called I’m a boomer who’s not yet ready to be old. Petrow says he’s “been steeped in the stereotypes of what it means to be old”. The example he gives is “funny”… “birthday cards that equate being older with being decrepit.” I actually bought a card last week to use in a future blog. I guess the time is now:
Really? 50 for goodness sake! Think back when you were 50 or headed that way, are you a lot of the above? I”ll give you ‘squinty’…but that’s all I’ll give you! At 50 I was running 10K’s, traveling all over the world, making a great living at a job I loved, dating and loving life! What about you? Oh, and by the way, the dwarfs were already 50 when we met them in the 1950’s and they carried pickaxes, got up at the crack of dawn, walked miles to work, hacked into the side of a mountain all day, threw big rocks onto a cart on a rail line and walked home in the dark!
Mom says she doesn’t know what 96 is supposed to feel or be like. Case in point, the other day she told me she was a little unsteady on her feet and was wondering if it was possibly due to her age!
A girl I row with said, “you don’t look or act like you’re 68!” She’s 43. So, I was going to write another blog about the perceptions younger people have on age and old. And, boom, AARP publishes a video on-line two weeks ago: “We asked millennials to show us what “old” looks like, and then introduced them to real “old” people. Watch what happened next.” #DisruptAging I hope you watch it. It is very powerful.
I think between today’s Washington Post article and the AARP video, the universe is telling me I’m on the right path with my Rants, Raves and Attitudes!
5 Tips to Combat “Well at your age”:
- Don’t drink the Kool-Aid! Just because you woke up and felt achy doesn’t mean it’s over, you’re old! What did you do the day before? Could be more than a millennial did! Just saying.
- Look at the positives: I find not beating myself up about stupid stuff I’ve said or done is freeing. When I was younger, oh I was so hard on myself. Glad I’m not anymore.
- Take a risk. A friend of mine calls it ‘sampling’. A neighbor told me he started a drawing class. He says he’s the worst in the class, but he didn’t care. Don’t care so much about the outcome. Just try it.
- Seek out like-minded people. People who are positive. People who are active, whatever that looks like.
- Be proud of where you are: I know I am the best almost 69-year-old person I can be. Do you? Are you enjoying life to the fullest? I hang out with lots of people who do as much, and some times more, than people younger than ourselves. I’m grateful I made it here. So, when someone asks you ‘how old are you anyway?’ say with a great deal of pride, “I’m (state your age).” It’ll take you back to your teens when you were so proud to say how old you were because you were growing up. YA, like that!!
Originally posted 2016-04-20 00:05:30.
An independent woman. That’s what my 96 year old Mom called herself today. She said it because at 96 things are beginning to happen that make her less independent and she is uncomfortable about it all. “I’m forgetting where I put things and my body is changing. I’m finding it so hard to accept. I have been an independent woman my whole life.”
Believe me I know how lucky I am to still have Mom! Many of you have seen your parents and loved ones age and go through the process Mom is going through right now. I have not. Neither has Mom. Her Dad died when she was 12 and her mother was institutionalized (a post for a different day) when mother was very young. She has said to me more than once that she never really saw anyone grow old. That’s a double edged sword, if you ask me. On the one hand, she has no preconceived ideas what she should be like, act like or look like at 96. So she has created herself counter to the mindset in this country and become an inspiration to many. On the other hand neither she nor I know what to expect. Maybe even if we did it would still be a hard thing to watch, and I am sure for Mom, it’s a hard thing to be going through.
You can read and talk about what to say to a parent when you know it’s time to take their car keys or move them to a assisted living facility. But, how do you respond to a parent who says they are acutely aware their bodies and minds are changing and they are embarrassed and what the hell happened to their independence? In other words, what do you say when you can’t stop the forward momentum of their lives and neither can they? What I was able to come up with was to tell her that I heard her. That it must be very difficult for her and that it was all okay. I said not to be so hard on herself and I was proud of her no matter what. I told her that we had hired a person to be with her who, up to this point, hasn’t had much to do so it was time she earned her keep. That made Mom laugh! And even though in my gut and in my heart I was so sad, to hear her laugh was the BEST.
I had an ‘aha’ moment when Mom called herself ‘an independent woman’. No wonder I have always been attracted to women in life and in novels who have their struggles and overcome them without much help from others. There is strength and dignity and grace from experiences of that kind. And no matter what happens in life, that never ever ever goes away. I’m going to tell Mom that the next time I speak to her!!
Originally posted 2016-03-02 21:17:59.
Tip for a long life: laugh-play!! Did you know the word ‘play’ can be used as both a noun and a verb? The example given using ‘play’ as a noun is, “a child at play may use a stick as an airplane.” ‘Play’ used as a verb, is defined as ‘activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.’ Example given: “the children went outside to play.”
And therein lies the rub. How come I could not find any examples using the word ‘adult’ when describing the word play? Does something happen to us as we ‘grow-up’? Does society give us the message that ‘play’ is only for children and at a certain age it’s time to get serious about life? I think it does. And, guess what, we forget about playing!! I’m talking about ‘activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose’ too! I’m talking about ‘goofing’ around, giggling, screaming with delight, laughing so hard no sound comes out, doing a silly dance, jumping in a pile of leaves, expressing yourself for pure enjoyment whether through art or dance or any of a thousand other ways!
Laugh-play, that’s my Mom. She has such a cute little girl. Oh, wait, I bet you think I’m talking about me! Nope. I’m talking about the little girl that’s inside her. I realize that I have known her little girl since I was a little girl!
See Mom’s little girl in this photo? I can.
Mom was a single parent and on most Sunday mornings my two sisters and I would pile into her double bed, which at the time seemed enormous. The biggest fight we had was who was getting each side of her. “You were there last time, Susan. It’s my turn”, I’d say. Mom would intervene and figure it out then we’d settle down and wrap ourselves around each other. We would giggle and laugh and talk about silly things. She was as silly as we were. At our goofiest we would make up games and songs. She would tell us the whole story about musicals such as South Pacific or My Fair Lady and transport us to wonderful places. As we aged subjects were added, like taking care of ourselves as young women. I remember the first time Mom told Susan it was okay for her to pluck her eyebrows, then looked at Susan and said, “Susan, what happened to your eyebrows?” Hence laughing so hard no sound came out. I visited Mom a few weeks ago (right before her 96th birthday). When I awoke the first morning my little girl was all excited to jump in bed with Mom and her little girl, which is exactly what I did! As we were snuggling she said to me, “Too bad we don’t have a paper route. I could fold them, you could throw them!” Once again laughter, giggling and goofing commenced.
I believe that the little boy or little girl we once were still lives within us. I am amazed to learn that many people are surprised when I say that. My friend Ann Ranson is one of those people. I was telling her a story about Mom’s little girl and she said, “Wait, your Mom has a little girl? I didn’t know there was a little girl/boy still with us.” Well, I say ‘yes!’ Ann has always talked about playing more and creating more. I saw her recently and BOY has she tapped into her little girl. She sets a timer and when it goes off the music plays, that’s her time to dance around her house. She also has carved out a space to create her art and recently was accepted into a show at the Bath House Cultural Center.
Look closely at this photo of my friends Andy Taylor and Marie Taylor-Morrison. Andy is in the stripped shirt and Marie is to his right. Two ‘kids’ having the time of their lives! For the record, play and fun are a HUGE part of their lives together to this day and I love it!
If you are a parent or grandparent with young children, show them that play and laughter are wonderful things. Play WITH them. So, I say to you, get re-acquainted with that little person. Experiment. Give yourself permission to be a goofball, laugh, sing, dance, scream with joy and giggle with abandon!
I believe we still carry that little girl or boy inside us because I see and hear my 96-year-old Mother’s little girl all the time! Wow, thank you Mom!! If she is any indication that laugh and play helps prolong our lives what are you waiting for?
Originally posted 2016-02-10 20:09:36.