When I grow up, I want to be an old woman. An old, old, old, old woman. Those are the words to one of my favorite commercials. At this writing (2009), I am sixty-two years old. You might wonder why I don’t mind telling my age. For one thing, I am so happy to have lived this long. I know it’s not that old, however, so many of my friends didn’t live to be this age. So you see, those words are dear to my heart. One of my friends said that her mother always said that she didn’t want to get old, and she didn’t, she died young. Sometime during conversations about aging, someone will lament about growing old, and my answer to that is, there’s only two ways to go: grow old, or die young. I prefer the former. This article is not meant to be morose or morbid, but to make all of us grateful that we are alive.
On a lighter note, when I was young, I use to think that people my age were so old. I have a penchant for putting my foot in my mouth. Once, when I was about thirty years old, an older friend and I was having a conversation about age, and she said that, when she was young, she use to think that sixty was old. Now, mind you I didn’t know her age, so I said, “That is old.” She said, “No, it’s not.” Then I asked, (as I was inserting the big toe of the foot that wasn’t already in my mouth), “What do you consider old?” She said, “About eighty.” Then I said, (with the second foot firmly implanted in my mouth), “That’s ancient! Sixty is old.” All of a sudden, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole, when it dawned on me to ask her age. She said, very proudly, sixty. Believe it or not, I had no words. Thank goodness she had the wisdom of her sixty years to recognize the stupidity of my meager thirty years and didn’t hold it against me. She even had a good laugh at my expense. In my defense, when I was real young, you were considered old in your late fifties, or, early sixties. Actually, Social Security was designed with the premise that retirement age was sixty-five, and about five years after that the retiree would be dead, but because that premise no longer holds true, Social Security is running out of money.
I am constantly told that I don’t look my age. Well, my response to that is, “This is the way over-sixty looks these days.” For the most part, that’s true, because of the advances in health care, and the promotion of physical fitness, we’re taking better care of ourselves, so living longer is the new norm. I am not a mirror person, meaning I don’t spend a lot of time looking at myself in the mirror. But when I do, I don’t see the person that others see. Sometimes I will look in the mirror and have to ask the lady standing in front of me to move over, so I can see myself, then I notice that, she’s saying the same thing, and I realize that she is me. You see, to me, I don’t look as young as I feel.
At times, I’ll run into someone that hasn’t seen me for years, and they will say, “You look the same, you never change.” My response to that is, “I hope that’s not true, because I thought I was cute back then.” Seriously though, when I say feeling young, I do—so much so that I still run up and bounce down the stairs. I even still skip through the house. I know that might sound a little silly, but I’ve done that since I was young and see no need to stop until I can’t do it anymore. I’m not the only one; I see my friends with the same level of energy that I have. This could be the way we look at life; you know, age is more of a state of mind over matter (if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter).
I tend to act the way I feel, meaning my activities are not indicative of a “normal” sixty-two-year-old. Of course, most of my friends do the same, so the new norms must be what we do. None of us are sedentary—we walk (some run) for exercise, we dance (some of the latest decent dances). Actually we (my friends and I) are never home for any length of time. We have what we call Ole girl pajama parties, movie nights, we go to spas together, and so many other activities that fit our lifestyles. You know the saying: growing old gracefully or fighting it all the way. You might say we combined the two because we do know our limitations and boundaries—and we respect them.
My mother is eighty-something; she still lives alone and loving it, drives the freeway alone, works in her vegetable garden, and is generally very active. I have an eighty-something-year-old friend that you would declare she was in her sixties because of the way she carries herself. She wears inch-and-a-half high heels all the time, and dresses to the nines, albeit conservatively. She is all over the country visiting relatives and friends, never home and completely enjoying life. Both my mother and my friend don’t consider themselves old. I don’t, either. You see, my take on that is you’re only as old as you feel. So I have a long, long way to go, before I’m an old, old, old, old, woman.
So if you want to join me in my quest, here’s what you must do. Get up off that couch, out of that bed, leave that rocking chair behind, and do something, anything active. First check with your doctor, to make sure of the level of your activity, then with the green light that he or she is going to give you, go for it. Join a group, a gym, or just walk around the block. Implement some of the things that I do, or make up your own. You see, with the advances in health care, there is no reason you should not live to be an old, old, old, old person.