By Judie Holcomb-Pack
I recently received my Medicare card and am now looking forward to retirement in a few months. Lately I’ve been thinking about getting older, which brings to mind some comments comedian George Carlin made about the aging process. When we are born, we mark our ages in months – two months old, six months old. Even baby clothes are sized by age. Thank goodness that’s not the way for adults. I’d hate to admit wearing a size 65!
When you’re a kid, you can’t wait to get older. That’s when age is marked in halves – you’re three and a half, six and a half, sometimes even eight a three-quarters. You even round up numbers – “I’m going to be seven!” You can’t wait to get to those magic ages – 13 – finally a teenager! 16 – you can get your driver’s license! 18 – you can get into R-rated movies! And the big 21 – you’re all grown up and can legally drink.
Have you noticed the progression of the ages? We’re GOING to be seven; we BECOME 21. But then everything changes. We TURN 40. Turn? Like in turning over a NEW leaf because the old one is so bad? It makes it sound like spoiled milk – the milk TURNED sour. We TURNED 40 – oops … bad stuff, let’s throw it out. We’re too old – no fun now, just a sour puss. But it keeps getting worse.
Now we’re PUSHING 50, like it’s some tremendous stone that has to be pushed up a hill. And before you know it, we REACH 50! Yes, we reach out to embrace the age that marks a mid-point in a century. We’re a HALF-CENTURY old. Whoa, put on the brakes before our life slips away!
It’s like being on a runaway freight train – we’re traveling on the highway of life at increasing speeds and out of control. And now that we’ve reached 50, we’re “over the hill.” We continue chugging along until we make it to 60. Our AARP card is hidden in our wallet, only to be pulled out in an emergency, like when we really need that hotel discount. The kids at McDonald’s no longer ask if we’re old enough for the senior discount, they give it to us automatically. We’re rolling down that hill so fast and built up such speed that we HIT 70! That’s right, just like a brick wall.
From 70 it’s a hop, skip and a jump until we get into our 80s, then we make it to 90 and guess what? We start going backwards! Instead of being 90 and a half, or almost 91, we WERE 90 last year. We aren’t just 92. We turned 92 eight months ago. And when we make it to 100, we’re suddenly a little kid again. We’re 100 and a half!
My mother, who lived to be 84, said if she’d known she’d live so long, she would have taken better care of herself. Here I am PUSHING 66, and I say that age doesn’t matter, it’s the attitude we have that will keep us young, no matter how old we are chronologically. Here is my Top Ten Tips for Growing Old Gracefully:
Throw out non-essential numbers – age, weight, height (at some point, you may start shrinking). Let your doctor worry about things like that. That’s why we pay him.
Surround yourself with cheerful people. The grouches only pull you down. Life is too short to put up with whiners.
Keep learning. Learn a craft, learn a language, take up a new hobby. Look for new adventures every day.
Take time to enjoy the simple things – coffee with friends, a good book, people watching on a downtown bench.
Volunteer – at a school, food pantry, church. Research has shown that people who volunteer are happier, healthier and live longer.
Occasionally hang out with people much younger than you. You can learn from them. Also hang out with people much older than you. You can learn from them, too.
Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until your stomach hurts and you have to gasp for breath. Laughter keeps you healthier and energizes you. Laugh so much you embarrass your kids. You’ve earned it!
Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, or whatever. Your home is your refuge from this crazy world.
Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, seek to improve it. Choose healthy foods, eat slowly, and always save room for a little dessert.
Tell people you care about that you love them at every opportunity. Be a world-class hugger. You may just make somebody’s day, and it will surely make yours.