Friday, May 2, 2014

When I Grow Old

Put some more candles on that birthday cake.

I recently had the chance to spend several days with an elderly relative and, like most encounters with my family, it filled me with resolve not to do certain things, or behave in certain ways.

This time, it was a period of reflection followed by a list of things I promised myself I would not do when I get older. There is no question that I am headed into the crone phase of my life, and for the most part, I am happy with it.  Oh, sure, I'd love firmer skin, clearer eyes, and ankles that don't creak first thing in the morning.  But on the other hand, I'm a lot wiser, more at peace, and the feminine products aisle in the supermarket is no longer of any interest to me.  Those things alone may be worth trading some wrinkles for.

But there are things I need to make sure I do if I want to be the kind of senior citizen people actually want to hang out with.  Therefore, I hereby proclaim the following:

1.  I will try my best to not become a wrinkled teenager, meaning I will try not to be stubborn, insist that everything I know is right, and become disdainful of people trying to help me.  I'm not sure what it is about aging that brings out a certain rebellion in 80 year-old women, but if I am lucky enough to live that long, I'm going to make sure I'm still pleasant and agreeable, even when I don't agree. Being old doesn't automatically you right, anymore than being young makes you wrong. 

2.  If I need a hearing aid, I will wear one, because even though that skin-toned piece of plastic in your ear is a pretty reliable indicator that you're now in the second half of your life, having to 1) constantly pretend you actually heard/understood what someone said, or 2) say, "whaaat?" all the time is worse.

The old gang.  Literally.

3.  Eliminate the perfume:  Once my sense of smell is not what it was, I will not marinate in my favorite scent, even if it means I have to bathe more often.  No one ever overdosed from the clean smell of soap, but they most certainly have from some old lady sitting next to them wearing way too much eu d' cologne, toilet water, and actual perfume. I have, anyway.

4.  When it's time, I will relinquish my car keys.  I've already told my son this, and if he wants I will put it in writing.  There will come a time when my reflexes are not what they should be, and when that is the case I should no longer be driving. I have friends who literally had to take the battery out of their parents' car to stop them from driving, and I never want to bring my children to that point.

5.  #5 is the hardest one to write.  When I'm no longer safe and self-sufficient living here on my beautiful hill, I will give it up and move someplace in town.  Everything has a season, and life on a homestead is one of those things.  While I think I have a couple of decades more here (at least) I do understand that maintaining country property may someday be too much for me.

And whenever that happens, you can expect dispatches to begin from the Hot Flash Senior Home, full of rants about old ladies who wear too much perfume and old men who refuse to wear hearing aids. Only they will be my roommates by then.


  1. This is a great list. My great grandmother lived a long life--86, 5-7 husbands (no one is quite sure), smoking until 50, drinking like a fish until 82, and in the Florida sun--and once she said that old ladies wear all their perfume at once so they use it up before they die! Haha I remember that so well. We were at breakfast (she was having a screwdriver I'm sure) and she said it way too loud. I think that was also the morning she let me drive her massive mint green Cadillac. I think of her often when I think of aging. She just embraced it and kept her life moving forward, rather than trying to keep things the same. Must be why she acclimated to new husbands so quickly.

    1. Oh, what a wonderful story! I hope I'm just like her when I get old, because you obviously enjoyed your time with her and remember it fondly. I'd like to be remembered the same way, as a colorful character who was fun to be around. I've got to remember the perfume crack, too, that made me laugh out loud!! What a great sense of humor she must have had.