Growing old is one those funny things in life that you don’t realize is even happening until you wake up one morning and it dawns upon on you that you’re closer to fifty or sixty than you ever imagined. That’s when you know age has finally caught up with you. The famous one liner from Groucho Marx about aging says it all “Anyone can get old, all you have to do is live long enough”.
The strangest thing that I find about being older is that I remember my father at seventy as being a very old man and yet I am also approaching these golden years faster than I can imagine but I don’t feel that old at all. To confirm my opinion I asked my daughter if she thought I was old. Her answer of “very, very old” certainly brought me down to earth with a bang. Despite that, I know I’m not old at heart because I still want to stand up for old people when they don’t have a seat. I still open doors and stand aside for people of forty or fifty, even young ones, to enter first and can’t understand when they hesitate.
We all consist of two separate elements, the mind and the body, and for many of us “older” people they don’t age at the same rate. The mind in many ways remains much younger than the body and will often compel you to do things that are way beyond your physical ability. The advantage we now have is that replacement parts that weren’t around twenty or so years are readily available. You can have replacement hips, knees, shoulders and a whole assortment of internal body parts that are almost like having your car’s engine overhauled and the body refurbished. Hearing aids, walking aids, pacemakers and replacement teeth implants can keep you up with the crowd for many a year.
Vanity does not diminish with age and wearing a hearing aid is one of those things that my father resisted for many years because people would think he was old if he wore one. When the family has to repeat everything three or four times and what he thought he heard is so far removed from what was actually said, becomes great for laughs at his expense, the time for a hearing aid shyness is overdue.
My father’s problem hearing when there is a lot of background noise resulted in a few embarrassing occasions when he responded to what he thought had been said and got a blank stare or a laugh, I realized I too will be in this situation one day, hopefully later than sooner.
On the flip-side age brings wisdom and you also develop new faculties and great intuition. My father can forecast rain in two days time when his knees become painful, he can even forecast cold weather on its way because his lower back starts hurting. My family don’t understand how he could have developed this amazing ability to forecast the weather and even more so because he is more accurate than the weatherman. The sad part is that the weather service insists on employing all the fancy meteorologists and weather forecasting professionals rather than old people who don’t get it wrong half as often as what they do.
It’s weird how suddenly become conscious of how young all the people are around you on a daily basis seem to be, and they are getting younger all the time. Whether it’s the doctor or the clerk at the bank or post office and most of other people in service professions I come across are all so very young in my eyes. It amazes me how some of them actually know anything when they’ve only been around for such a short time. As a kid, your doctor was always an older all-knowing person, yet today my doctor is in fact younger than me.
They say that one of the things that goes along with old age is memory loss which isn’t strictly true. The mind is often compared to a computer and the older you become the more information you have stored in your database. So it’s not that you don’t remember, it’s just that there’s so much information to sift through before you find what you’re looking for, it sometimes takes longer to extract the info. We have so much accumulated wisdom that we just can’t locate it in the memory bank that we sometimes appear not to know the answers.
Putting things down in odd places and then not knowing where you put them is not really a case of not remembering, but rather of having so much on your mind that you become a little absent minded. Just the other day our vegetable peeler disappeared, and then I suddenly realized that the peelings were in the dishwasher, so the peeler must be in the dustbin. Merely a case of confused storage, too much happening around me and really got nothing to do with something wrong with my mind.
The truth is that growing old isn’t really bad on many levels and truthfully, the alternative does not seem very attractive at all. So I’m happy to get older and if my foibles, strange habits and lack of hearing (one day in the future) give people a laugh, I’m happy that I can bring a bit of humor into the lives of others. I guess once my kids have kids and they start calling me granny, then I will re-evaluate. For the time being I see myself like a fine wine… simply getting better with age.