I doubt if a day goes by without a pundit publicly sharing their wisdom about the various problems, perplexities and/or pleasures of old age.
Ironically, most, if not all, of these authorities have not yet reached the threshold of what is commonly considered ripeness.
So, perhaps as one who has crossed that line of maturity, let me tell you a little about what life really is like when you have reached that stage of existence.
First, you do not really feel mentally as if you are no longer relevant. If your favorite time was 26 or perhaps even 32, you can reach back and say, "I feel the same." Of course, not physically, but our emotions still cling to those moments. I was 26, I blinked, and now I am 78.
Secondly, you are still able to feel totally bored with those who do not live in the moment. The endless reminisces about yesterday's glories can be tiresome. We have now, today, and nothing else. Please let's not waste it or our time dwelling on what is gone.
Memories are sacred. And to be savored alone like a vintage wine. They warm my heart and those who loved me visit me in my dreams. These moments are not to be shared.
Fears, of course, of course. But then we had them when we were younger. Just a different manuscript. And there were just as many then; perhaps even more so. Just a different chapter in our particular script of life.
Without a doubt, health concerns are primary when one crosses that line from elderly to old. But youthful fears were part of the scenery during the early years of childbirth; complicated middle years of stress and anxiety, and the not simplistic passage into retirement. So perhaps it is not such a different landscape we are passing through, akin to the dark nights of November and the crystal sunlight in the waning days of February.
Loneliness is oft a companion. However, it was sometimes at our side in other years. I was incredibly lonely as a bride when my husband was serving his government. The days were long many years later when his second career took him away for weeks at a time. It is not a condition known only in later years.
And please when you write or discuss the elderly either as a generality or a specific, remember one adjective does not totally identify us.
We haven't always been aged. Once we, too, were young, and then middle aged and then just mature. This is merely part of the passage of our journey. If we were querulous as an adolescent, interesting as a young woman, difficult in middle age, then some of those attributes haven't just arrived when we cross that mythical line of demarcation described as elderly.
There were always moments of disquiet during each chapter of my life. Almost a century later I still recall the days of comfort and pleasure I enjoyed during early childhood, listening to lovely stories, my days insulated with caring parents. Adolescence wasn't great fun, but the later teen age years were. Still I yearned for more - always feeling the best was yet to come, quoting a poet of renown. First the yearning to "grow up," then the desire for romance and family; ultimately, financial rewards. When our children were young, I yearned for their independence. Once that arrived, there was still more to anticipate, perhaps grandchildren in the future. Always a rainbow around the corner; a belief that the best was yet to be.
Now while I am still in a comfortable place, a wish for more time is beginning. And once again I remember the oft repeated words of the poet Browning. And I still believe the best is yet to come.
And I guess this is what is called old!