My OLDER sister Robin turned 80 this week. There are a few years left before that happens to me but I’m truly not far behind. MOTHER OF GOD!
Robin’s always been older. She was a teenager before me, a college freshman before me, cast her first Presidential vote before me. But I’ve never thought of her as OLD. Just older.
And now she’s an octogenarian. That’s old.
But …. when I look around at my contemporaries, many of us are in the “Check This Box if You’re Over 65” category. Mind you, “Wandering With Val” is not sponsored by AARP, and you don’t need a Medicare card, blue hair, hearing aids or dentures to notch a spot on the blog list. However, many readers are, shall we say, “up there.” Me too. Old.
But what is “old?” Is Tiger Woods old at age 43? Not many people would think that after watching him outfox those young flatbellies on the back nine at Augusta National last Sunday. Yet in the world of golf, Tiger is shuffling towards Senior Citizenship.
Here’s what Cher has to say about the aging process. “Some guy said to me, ‘Don’t you think you’re too old to sing rock n’ roll?’ I said, ’You’d better check with Mick Jagger’.” Tina Turner adds, “I will never give in to old age until I become old. And I'm not old yet!” Last I checked, these fabulous ladies were blowing out umpteen candles on their birthday cakes.
Here in my coastal village, I have a dear friend named Ellen who’s well into her 90s. She walks up and down stairs every day to her master bedroom on the second floor. She gardens and grows outrageously beautiful DInnerplate Dahlias and shares them with her neighbors in July. She savors summer afternoons when she can tee off at Webhannet Golf Club for 9 holes with her grandsons. Old?
At Kennebunk’s Fitness Nut House (where I go to thwart my arthritis), I sit on a stationary bike and pedal away. Right beside me is a white-haired man named Robert who’s in his mid-90s. It takes him longer than me to walk from his car to the gym because he needs a cane for stability. But he comes to exercise four times a week. Old?
Several weeks ago here in town, a job fair was held that specifically targeted older retired adults. Here’s what local businesses wanted: part-time and full-time seasonal front-desk, reservation and sales agents, gift shop attendants, night auditors, maintenance and landscaping workers, housekeepers, cruise and bus greeters, concierge staff, hosts, bartenders, breakfast attendants, pet sitters, childcare, pool and marina attendants. The job fair’s slogan: Get out of the house and stay active.
As Mark Twain put it, “Lord, save us all from old age and broken health and a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.”
Or, as I said to my sister over the phone, “Happy 80th Birthday, you young coot!”