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Posted: November 23, 2011 12:00 a.m.

I'm not old, just older

I have a birthday this week. A big one. Reaching this day has caused me to muse about some of the changes that accompany reaching such a milestone.

I don't feel old. I don't even think I see my mother in the mirror. But I am beginning to realize that physically I can't do what I used to. Well, I can do most of what I used to do, but either for shorter periods of time or at a slower pace, or both.

A friend of mine said her husband brought her a cup of coffee while she was still in the bedroom one morning. He was about to leave the house, and she asked him not to forget the letters that were on the kitchen table. When she got up and went into the kitchen, she found the letters still on the table and right next to them a package of lettuce which he had taken from the refrigerator and put on the table.

I think I still have my hearing. People aren't yelling at me yet. At least I don't think so. But my husband swears I never hear my cell phone, especially when he is calling me. He's partly right. I think my two housemates, my husband and my cat, have selective hearing loss. If you are calling the cat, he ignores you. If you want my husband to do something he doesn't want to do, he ignores you. But if you are in the kitchen and make even the smallest of noises, like opening the refrigerator, the cat will be winding around your feet and my husband will ask when the next appropriate meal will be ready or appear with knife and fork and plate in hand.

My hearing is still with me, but don't get me started on my teeth. I have told my children I want to be cremated. I don't want my ashes kept in the urn on the mantle. But they could put my teeth there; they are the most expensive part of by body.

The last time I had to have some dental work done and the dentist gave me some pills to take two days before the procedure. He said, you know, just put them in the appropriate place in that plastic pill holder that is labeled with the days of the week. I got a little offended. I may be old, but I don't have one of those plastic pill holders and only take a low dosage aspirin a day.

Maybe I am getting a little sensitive about my age. My mother-in-law was very sensitive about the word "old." She didn't want to be called grandmother or any of the various permutations of that word. She was "Mama A." She always corrected my children if they referred to someone as old. They were not old, but older. And now I see her point of view.

When my younger daughter was in the first or second grade, she made a May basket at school out of construction paper. She went to Mama A's house, which was next door, and rang the doorbell and ran home. Mama A found the basket and came over to thank my daughter and exclaim over the basket. My daughter thanked her and told her that her teacher had told each of her students to take the basket to an old lady.

That did it for Mama A. She made my daughter take the basket across the street to Mrs. King.

There are some advantages to getting "older," not too many, but some. My older daughter recently emailed me a list of over 100 businesses that offer senior citizen discounts. And look at us all at Kroger on Wednesdays.

Another advantage is that you can usually get away with being a little eccentric and doing just exactly what you want to (unless your children call you on it). People just shake their heads and say, "Bless her heart, she's getting old." But they should say older.


Paula Travis is a Newton County resident and retired schoolteacher. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

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