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Getting Old

July 28, 2014 | 9 Comments


My mother retired five years ago and is living the free-form retirement lifestyle and recently, when she turned 64, I asked her how it felt and she said, "It's old." I said, "Well, no, not really," and she said, "No, it's old." I've met people older than she who enjoy adventurous lives and wonder how I can help my mother enjoy the possibilities she absolutely still has in her life. Or is there a profound sadness that I can't reach as a son?



Everyone is entitled to a little weariness, even depression, now and then, and you can't persuade your mother to feel the way you think she should feel. Not about being 64, not about much else. What can you and your mother find to do together that will make you both giddy and light-hearted? A ride on a roller coaster? A steak for lunch, preceded by a gin martini? The Adult Bible Study Class when it's taking up Ecclesiastes? Whatever it is, try to do it a little more often. Don't be her therapist.


Getting Older

Getting older
may mean
Not wanting a shoulder

Getting older
Though fires still smolder
may mean
being a little colder

Getting older
may mean
Getting bolder,
Admitting that
Home is where the heart is,
Excursions are overrated,
The wrong is never properly berated,
That simply being, is being elated.

What to do with an aging parent
(Don't be their therapist)*

Should your parent become a misanthrope,
Don't think them a dope.

Should your parent not crave adventure,
Consider a movie or better yet a book -
For these the heart may still have a nook.

Should your parent tire of food,
Perhaps you can find new ones that are good.

Should the life of being retired
Seem old and uninspired,
Consider a strong coffee -
That'll get 'em wired!

Should your retired parent seem bogged down,
Consider shopping for a new night gown.

Should your retired parent seem to sit and fume,
Consider working together on playlists and remembering a favorite tune -
For when one lacks a current memory,
Old music can blossom like a diary,
Or, if you're lucky, like a trip to a brewery!

And, finally, don't be their therapist
Unless you want them really pissed!

*gk reply to Post to Host, "Getting Old": "Don't be her therapist." 7/28/14

Well said Garrison and good advice for all children and friends at any age.

This advice will work for so many situations! My sister's husband died a year ago & she had to return to the USA, moving from 20 years of marriage in remote Canada, to a major city. She is living with me, reinventing her life. We haven't lived together in nearly 40 years, so you can imagine the adjustments. She has symptoms similar to Peter's mother, though she is much younger & I've been wondering how to help. Thank you for saying not to be her therapist. Whew!! We will be spending this weekend and the coming days doing amazingly FUN things.

I agree completely with your comment, especially not being her therapist. If she needs a therapist, she needs a therapist. Her son is her son.

My brother-in-law recently bought a new pontoon boat to use on a lake, a bit bigger than Lake Wobegon. He, then, bought a 90 horse-power motor. He decided to use it water-skiing. It worked
pretty well, but it sure looked funny! How do you think that application for a pontoon boat would work on Lake Wobegon?
Mary Bachman

Thanks for this invaluable advice. Perhaps, the next time I feel tempted to take the easy way out by merely commenting on (or ragging about) my parents' lifestyle, this will help me remember to take the lead. Come to think of it, my father always told it like it is: you can't push a rope.

Getting Old

In one sense I was born old. Through some quirk of congenital error, I was born extremely near-sighted. I mean really, really near-sighted. Visual acuity extended about two inches in front of my eyeball. The ophthalmologist who kept me in Coke bottle bottom glasses throughout my youth said I had “old eyes” at birth.

The first time I remember feeling old was when I was all of 26 or so years old. I was beginning the arduous and seemingly endless task of writing my dissertation, trying to put the finishing touches on my research and in the process, working seven day weeks. I was crabby and feeling more like 106 than 26. One evening my wife and I decided we needed a little break, so we went to a favorite grad student hangout in Scottsdale called Mag’s Ham-Bun. It offered great ham sandwiches and a beer for, maybe, a couple of bucks, and it was not far from the ASU campus.

We went in, sat down, and I ordered my usual beer and sandwich. The pretty young server, in all seriousness, carded me. That was all it took to restore my youth and ensure that my tip was more generous than usual.

Fast forward about 30 years. Our family had by then settled in Salt Lake City. One evening, my wife and I decided to get a bite at a local fast food fish joint. As we moved through the line and came to the register, the pretty young cashier looked at me and asked if I wanted the senior discount. There went my last illusion of youth. I growled at her and hobbled away to eat my fish (it was lousy) and lick my wounded pride. The wounded pride, it turned out, didn’t taste any better than the fish.

I recently turned 77 (See, Garrison, you’re just a kid.), and I can tell you it ain’t the new 57. It’s OLD. I’m now happily retired and pretty much enjoying sitting on my butt, reading books that I haven’t had time for in the last 60 years and playing with Luminosity to try to keep my brain from turning into mush. I have decided that, for the time being at least, getting old beats not getting old. What think you on the subject?

By the way, please don’t you retire. My wife and I would be bereft without our Saturday night fix.

Best wishes,

Art Broom

I will be 64 next month, semi-retired, the biggest difficulty for me is the lack of money, my poor planning created that.

But aside from that, which can be manged so easily, there is something else that never happened before.

Well maybe before kindergarten. I need a nap now and then and I go to bed very early.

So knowing those minor constraints everything else is the same, except I have a lot of free time, which I love.

Oh yes I do read much more, constantly, but for men with younger wife, like me, be careful not to flaunt your free time if your wife works.

My wife can make a list titled-to do, and this list is normally absurd and would take years to accomplish, if your wife does this, make sure you sneak that list back into her purse before she leaves in the morning.

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