Elderly . . . elderly! That’s the word my cleaning lady used the other day referring to me. It’s a good thing she cleans well, or she’d be out of a job!
I’m used to being thought of as younger than my age. Up until I had 70 candles, folks thought that I was fifteen years younger. Once I hit 80 candles, they usually guessed that I was ten years younger. But the word elderly never entered the conversation. It’s another way of saying old, and not in a complementary way.
Why am I so quick to run away from the term old, or any euphemism thereof? Now, I’m not foolish, and I do have a mirror or two at home, so I know that I’m no longer young. But I’m cocky enough to consider myself youthful, i.e. energetic, active, quick on the uptake.
A recent health crisis has forced me to reconsider some aspects of my view of myself. At this point in my life, I’m finally beginning to acknowledge some of my age-related qualities.
Take health-related conversations for example. As I pay attention to my conversations with folks within a 25-year age range, I find more and more friends are giving attention to health problems.
“Hi how ya doin?”
If your friend answers truthfully, you could be inviting a litany of complaints – and I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve started joining in on this level of conversation. What’s the solution? Do you just say “I’m doing great. How are you?” As in most of life’s quandaries, I guess the answer is balance; share, then focus and glean from the brighter side.
Some of our decade graduates are doing worldwide tours for their recent book, or basking in the relaxation of laid-back retirement, or downsizing into the added care of assisted living. Let’s face it, once our cake holds 80 candles, our speed tends to start slowing down. The next person who tells me that age is just a number risks being flattened at myfeet.
One solution is continuing to do the same things that you love, but at a gentler (my euphemism for slower) pace. I used to do high impact Zumba three times a week, now I intersperse low impact aerobics and line dance.
I guess the bottom line involves change and acceptance: acceptance of the changes going on within and figuring out a realistic, yet acceptable, self-affirming solution to the elderly aspect of the candles on our cake.
written by Amy Bryant, Safety Harbor Resident Blogger
Author of “You Can Go Home Again“
Inspired by the website 70Candles.com