Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How "old" are you?

Tammy's recent post made me laugh out loud. She talks about sitting in the car while waiting for her husband to emerge from the store on a quick errand and hearing herself referred to as an "old lady". It's hilarious, really! Go ahead and follow the link so you can read it for yourself.

Her story reminded me of when I was in college. I was fortunate enough to land a part-time job in the college bookstore. Ella Christian was the manager. Another of her part-time student employees was Ernie Shegina, who had enrolled at Northern after he got out of the Army. He was 25 years old, and I remember thinking how "old" he was. But then, just a couple of years later - when I was a senior, I thought how young the incoming freshmen looked ... way too young to be entering college, it seemed to me!

One's chronological age is a given, but how we think of ourselves in terms of being young or old is sometimes predicated on how others view us and what we hear them say, isn't it? It's difficult to keep one's sense of humor when we're fast-approaching what we consider an almost unmentionable and much to be feared milestone in our life's journey.

In my case, it was 30. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but it was! My best friend, Jacky, forgot my actual birth date and sent me a lovely bouquet two months early. Danged near destroyed our friendship! It's funny, looking back on it now, but it wasn't even the slightest bit amusing then!

"Life" magazine, I think it was, featured an article on Jack Benny 'back in the day'. It was titled (something like), "How to Avoid Turning 40". This birthday has always seemed to be a big bugaboo for a lot of people, and Jack had a lot of good tips (most of them quite funny!). One of his tips was, "If you're talking about Lincoln, make sure you're referring to the car and not the President." My favorite of his? "Months before you turn 40, keep circulating the fact that you're 39. If people hear that figure often enough, they'll remember it for years!"

I don't remember my 40th birthday per se, but that was the year I came back to Houston as a single gal for the first time in almost twenty years and I was feeling on top of the world! My 50th? Not much attention was being paid to birthdays that year. I had recently lost my last parent and gone through my third divorce. It was a bad year and I was floundering, emotionally. 60th? Too busy working 24/7 to give it more than a passing thought.

My 70th? Beth had a nice party for me, as did my daughter, but I wasn't feeling "old". However, I'll soon be 72 and have taken some good looks at recent photographs of me. You know what? I'm old! I 'look' old! You know what else? I don't care!

I wouldn't have liked being called - or even thought of as - an "old lady" when I was still in my 30's. I wouldn't have liked it when I was in my 40's or even 50's. In my 60's, I would still have resented it, I'm pretty sure. Now that I'm in my 70's, I don't care. I've earned it!

Many years ago, when I began teaching first grade, I got a huge kick out of asking my students how old they thought I was. Some of their answers were just hilarious! Btw, I stopped asking some years later when they started guessing much more accurately. :)

The older I get, the younger others look to me. Have you discovered that yet? Also, the older I get, the less importance age differences become. I can remember thinking when I was very young how sad it must be to 'get old'. I mean, there's no fun, no laughter, no dancing, no dreams - or so I thought. How utterly ridiculous to think that, but so typical of the very young.

Just a very few years back, my son-in-law was bemoaning his fast-approaching 50th. My daughter threw him a party that featured - among other things - black balloons. Just the thought is hilarious! He has since recovered some equanimity, and is busily getting his darkest thoughts together and preparing for his wife's 50th - altho that won't occur for another couple of years. Hope I'm around to see it!

Steve, my blogger friend in Canada, recently celebrated his 60th. I could tell, in reading some of his posts in recent weeks, that he was coming up on some sort of milestone in his life. His focus was often in retrospect, a sort of 'looking back on one's life' type of thing ... and, to tell you the truth, I was just a tad worried about him. As I've been composing this post, however, I received an e-mail from him in response to a comment I made on one of his most recent posts, where he said (in part), "Now that it's over, no big deal."

That made me laugh, too! We could all save ourselves a whole lot of stress and sleepless nights by not sweating the small stuff, couldn't we? Erma Bombeck wrote about it, Pat Sajak talked about it ... ... 'tons' of people have said, "Why worry yourself to death about something that is inevitable? Enjoy life!"

I might have added "Live life to the fullest", but that was before I viewed Craig's recent post which included YouTube clips on Angry Anderson's life story. (Angry Anderson is part of Australia's "Rose Tattoo" rock group.) Something Angry said in one of those clips will probably stay with me for a long time, and it was (paraphrasing here), "You can't live life to the fullest. If you could, then you would be living a perfect life."

So when will my next 'dreaded milestone' be? As far as birthdays are concerned, I don't think there will be a 'dreaded' one! What I'd kind of like to have is a big blowout for my 75th. Three quarters of a century. That should be a big deal, shouldn't it? Think I'd like a humongous celebration for that one!

"Happy birthday!" to any and all of you who are celebrating your birth dates today.


Tammy said...

What's strange is I am actually looking forward to 40. I hated, Hated, HATED 39. I dreaded 39 in my teens. I dreaded it even more in my 20's and 30's, and I truly have not enjoyed being 39 this year. I'm not sure what it is with the number, but it just feels old. 40 sounds and feels younger to me than 39, lol. Looking forward to next month and putting my 30's behind me...

ALSO, I've enjoyed immensely knowing we share the same birth date. How cool is that??? ;)

Craig Peihopa said...

I turn 44 next week and it doesn't worry me, I think that if there is any truth in the saying that only the good die young, then I will be here for a long time!

The one time concern I had about turning 44 is that my Dad died at that very age, but If that happens to em C'est la vie! I have tried very hard to pack a lot into my life and am convinced that I have really lived, and like you Goldenrod, I have earned what I have.

steven said...

i'm 52 in a couple of months and you know what i like feeling like 52 in my head, not looking like 52 in my body, and definitely not acting like 52!!!