The other day as I was listening to a story on the radio about a house fire the announcer wrapped up by saying, “And the elderly woman who lived in the home died in the fire. She was sixty-two.” That comment nearly knocked me on my flabby old fanny. Since when did sixty-two become elderly? I’m older than that; most of my friends are older than that and we hardly consider ourselves elderly. In fact, neither did my grandmother when she was well into her nineties. She always respectfully referred to older people (who were most often younger than her) in the third person, “old Mrs. James or poor old Mr. Holmes who lives around the corner”.
Remember when we Boomer’s didn’t trust anyone over thirty? Now we discount everyone under thirty as being too young to understand anything, including their perception of our generation. Just because I’ve had two hip replacements and wear hearing aids doesn’t mean I’m old. I can still rock around the clock with the best of them, sometimes even as late as 9:00 p.m. My maintenance issues are keeping me broke and when I get down on the floor I sometimes can’t get back up but that still doesn’t make me old. And the fact that I qualify for CPP and OAS (Canada Pension and Old Age Security, for any kids who might be reading this) just means I worked for a very long time and have earned it.
The other day I went for Japanese food at lunchtime with eleven girlfriends. The hostess seated the twelve of us in a private room so our screaming laughter and rude jokes wouldn’t disturb the other restaurant patrons. Does that sound like a group of elderly women? After lunch, we split up and went our various way— shoe shopping, to the esthetician, to tennis drills, and the liquor store. I drove home with the top down on my car and found a new pair of red shoes I’d ordered on-line waiting for me in a box on my doorstep, along with the new February issues of ELLE and MORE magazine in my mailbox. No pilled pastel cardigans with a snotty Kleenex up the sleeve for us.
When we look at pictures of our mothers, aunts and grandmothers at our age, they did not look like we do now. Maybe they accepted aging with more grace than we do. Call it vanity, taking care of ourselves, good living or just plain denial. Just don’t call us elderly! Or you might not live long enough to know what elderly really means.
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