It’s been awhile since I last informed you of new signs of old age, and meanwhile none of us have gotten any younger. (I’m working on it, I’m working on it.) I find one of the best things I can do to stay young is to read the obituaries. It reminds you that you are still alive and there are times in one’s life when that can be a serious concern. Of course, the trick is to avoid reading the obituaries for people you know, first checking the pictures for familiar faces. But for the folks you never met, they are remarkably invigorating, especially if they were older than you are. It gives you a goal in life — and we all need goals, right?
For instance, here’s a remarkably livelylooking (by elderly standards ) chap who has died when he was a year older than you. Bingo, a short-term goal right there before you on the page. Only a year! You can do it, Maude, you can do it! He looks like a nice guy too, aged gracefully, no doubt. There, see? Oops. He seems to have had dementia problems — oh well, you win some you lose some. Probably the secret is NOT to read the obituary.
Another way to adjust to the advance of old age is not to fight it. I realize this is against all revealed wisdom, and you do have to fight it a little — screaming and yelling all the way helps — but sometimes you just have to remind yourself, “Okay, I am 84” (or whatever) “and I have no great investment in getting to be 85. If it happens, it happens and, by the way, yippee — otherwise, so be it.”
And here’s a little secret that goes against all the revealed wisdom of our time, but I believe it — oh, do I believe it! Take it easy on the exercise, guys. Our bones have only so much give and take, and if you spend it all before you get old, you have no account to draw on in the later years. I look around at my friends and I see several who have been exercising faithfully for years, and, by golly, I can kick my legs higher than they can. (Assuming you need to kick your legs, which I have never understood, since I sit in one place reading a lot.) I know exactly one woman my age who still exercises according to Hoyle and, in fact, actually leads exercise classes in her elderly residential community. I gladly surrender to her for her success at aging gracefully, and with enviable muscle tone. Otherwise I know few folks my age, who exercised faithfully when they were young, who do not have aches and pains similar to mine, and in some cases, worse. (Not to crow, but, “I told you so!” Which is, I guess, to crow. Sorry about that.) And really, there are advantages to old age. I was reading some women’s magazines (not to be confused with girls’ magazines) recently, and the longer I read them, the more liberated I felt. True, there are things you’d like to do that you can’t anymore. But, by the evidence in those magazines, there are oh, roughly a million or so, things you don’t need to do, nor feel guilty about not doing.
For instance, I don’t need to hang my scarves from a ladder in the closet. No doubt a fun idea for young folks, but, honest, I’ve gotten past that. I don’t need to add peanut butter to my s’mores. (Actually, I never liked s’mores to begin with but was ashamed to admit it. Now I’m going public with my shame. “Folks, I hate s’mores.” Like cupcakes, they are too darn sweet.) I couldn’t care less about one magazine’s suggestion that I rent a convertible for a weekend and ride around with the top down! Borrrrring! (And hard on the hair.) I don’t want to cut off a pair of jeans and “distress” it with sandpaper to make a “perfectly ‘worn-in’ ” pair of shorts for the summer. I just don’t want to, that’s all. And I have absolutely no desire to “bring out my inner child” with a bunch of removeable tattoos. Thanks again, but no thanks!
You can be sure that I was reading respectable magazines. There are others who would list must-dos for you that would be exactly the opposite of any kind of behavior you would not mind being caught doing! My point here, folks, is that at my age I are old enough not to have to do anything I don’t want to do. Which is most of the stuff that they recommend in magazines. (Exactly the reason I am letting my subscriptions for several of them lapse when the time comes. Assuming they don’t trick me into resubscribing again, without knowing it, which has been known to happen. There is no persecution like what you get from a magazine whose subscription you are trying to cancel!) Now I should mention that there are advantages to being old. I rarely buy clothes anymore, because I have about 40 years of stuff collected and when I get to the end of it, I just start all over again, and nobody notices. I have gotten compliments recently on a new outfit that was roughly co-existent with the Vietnam War.
I leave you with a few words of wisdom that I saw stuck to the back of a car recently : “What if the hokey-pokey IS what it’s all about?”
Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News.