I am afraid to tell you, my friends, that today’s post will be all over the place.

I had a theme idea. All about high heels, Zimmer frames, old age, and fear of aging. I was inspired by Alyson Walsh’s post on fear of aging which you can read here. So I read some stuff, did a little research, found some photos to use, and now this morning I can’t seem to settle down to write.

If I were a cat, I would have the “zoomies.” In fact I think I DO have the zoomies. It’s February after all. And February is when I usually get sick of winter. And have to reconcile myself that we have weeks and weeks of it yet to come. No matter what any groundhog says. So I can’t settle to any one task, and I struggle to finish anything.

I remember getting the midwinter zoomies as far back as the seventies when I was a teenager. Midwinter was hard, especially on the weekends when I was not at school, and there was nothing to do. Except homework or helping Mum around the house. We lived in the country where there was no bus service, except for the school bus. So I couldn’t meet my friends to slope around the mall or go to a movie. And I couldn’t talk to my friends on the phone all day. Well, I could, but I wasn’t allowed. An hour max, then Mum would yell for me to get off the phone. That’s if someone on our “party line” hadn’t already interrupted my call by picking up their phone, sighing, and then asking if my call would be finished soon. So I would hang up and slouch upstairs to read my book.

If it was February, the snow would be piled high outside. And if I’d been six or even ten, I could have gone out and rolled around in it. But I was fifteen and too old to do such childish things. Too old to slide on my bum down the snowbanks in the back yard, or haul the toboggan up the hill behind the barn, climb on, slide down the hill to the fence, roll off, and haul it back up the hill again.

Winter was never boring when one was six, or even ten. But at fifteen it was deadly. Unless one was fortunate enough to be a downhill skier. Which I wasn’t. At least until later that winter when, after an unfortunate and humiliating beginning, I learned to downhill ski. But, I’ve written that story already. You can read it here if you’re interested.

It’s funny, isn’t it, that at fifteen we can’t wait to get old. Or older, anyway. There’s no fear of aging… fear of not aging, maybe. After all, adults had it so good, didn’t they? No one bossed them around. Nagging them to do their homework. They could stop their chores to go sliding with us kids if they wanted. And sometimes they did want. We always loved it when mum came sliding. Even as a fifteen-year-old conscious of my dignity, I’d go sliding with my younger brother if mum came too.

That photo below was taken on Mum and Lloyd’s wedding day, in late June 1970, at my grandmother’s house where a small reception was held. I’d just turned fourteen. That’s my sister Connie, with the dark hair, and my sister Carolyn, in the back. And my newly-acquired step-brother David beside me. David looks a bit shell-shocked in this photo. Probably because in one fell swoop this only child had just gained three new older sisters. Or maybe it’s because he had to wear a suit. Or perhaps it’s just because it was such a hot day.

Mum and Lloyd’s wedding day. David and his three new sisters.

For the first year we lived on the farm after my mum remarried, I revelled in my last year as a child. Or that’s how it seems to me now. I loved being exactly where I was in life. My older brother was already married and my sisters were away at school. I adored living on the farm. I learned to drive the tractor, helped feed the animals when Lloyd worked late on the snow plows, and even learned to milk a cow, after a fashion. David and I climbed the ladder to the hay mow in the big barn, and then jumped onto soft piles of hay that we had just forked down from the mow. We slid on our toboggans all winter on the hill behind the barn.

Sometimes after supper while Lloyd spent time working on the new barn he was building, Mum and David and I went sliding. Then we’d go visit Lloyd in the barn, and all go back to the house together for tea and “a lunch.” Evening “lunch” is a big thing down east. Or at least it was when I was young. Tea and cookies or cake, biscuits and homemade jam, whatever was in the larder. Evening visitors, even unexpected ones, were always offered tea and a lunch. I loved those winter evening lunches with just us four around the kitchen table.

Then puberty hit, I turned fifteen, and I went off to high school. Suddenly I became dramatic, and so many of the things I’d enjoyed the previous year were now beneath my dignity. I couldn’t wait to be older, to be NOT fifteen, when life would NOT be boring.

That’s my step-brother David and me, below, at his first wedding back in the eighties. I was living in Ottawa by then and had just started teaching. David had been living and working in Calgary for years. Mum and Lloyd and I flew out for the wedding.

David and me at his wedding. Calgary 1985-ish

While we were in Calgary, two of David’s old high school friends came over to his apartment for beers one night and we had a rousing and hilarious discussion of everything they, and I, had got up to in high school, including several heretofore unreported incidents which took Mum quite by surprise. Lloyd, on the other hand, had sometimes been included in the subterfuge. Like the time he pounded out the dents in the car after a minor collision with a snow bank, and none of us felt that Mum needed to know. It felt very freeing to be discussing all the things we’d been afraid to tell mum when we were teenagers. Getting older in this case was to be desired. Just like I thought it would be when I was fifteen.

But to get back to my original point I’d hoped to pursue when I started writing about fear of aging. I think that growing older is good. And not to be feared. And I’m not just talking about growing up, which is what I desired when I was fifteen. But actually getting old. Retiring. Getting wrinkles. And white hair.

In her post that I mentioned earlier, Alyson Walsh looks at what is now being called FOGO, fear of growing old, at the idea of ageism, and some of the wonderful women who defy the stereotype of the “old woman.” It’s a great post; you should check it out.

Mum doing her laps, up and down the ramp. Winter 2018.

You know, I don’t think that my mum ever really feared aging, or ever thought of herself as an “old woman.” She just was who she was. That doesn’t mean she never encountered ageism. Or that she didn’t wish that she could have avoided some aspects of old age. Her painful arthritis which finally defeated her attempts to stay mobile, for instance. I just mean that she refused to be put in a box. You might underestimate her because she had white hair, and a cane, and later a walker, or Zimmer frame to you Brits, but you did so at your peril. And you only did it once to her face. Ha.

I remember years ago when she was in her eighties, she told her doctor about her decreased mobility, and he said, “Remember 1927.” That’s the year Mum was born. And she knew he meant that she should just relax and not fight whatever it was she had described to him. She could take something for the pain. But she was old and she should just accept it. She said he was always saying that, “Remember 1927.” As if it were a joke between them. But it wasn’t to her. She was pissed.

I was pissed too. How dare he try to limit her? I remember getting even more angry than she was. I remember I ranted a little, didn’t he know that you can build and maintain muscle mass whatever age you are. And when I was next home we visited a physiotherapist I’d booked for her so she could learn some exercises to help maintain her mobility. The exercises helped. And they gave her hope, and made her feel as if she was doing something productive.

She told her doctor at her next appointment. And she said after that, any time she reported some symptom to him, he would always say, “And what does your daughter have to say about that?” Ha. We both had a good laugh when she told me. She said it kept him on his toes. I should say that he was not a bad doctor. Or a bad man. He was actually very nice. But he was set in his ways, and he expected Mum to be set in hers. And she wasn’t.

Ageism is everywhere, and it shouldn’t be. One of the most insidious elements of ageism is the “assumption that pain, fatigue, and depression are just ‘normal’ parts of aging (source.)” Mum’s doctor made assumptions. And she didn’t let him get away with that. Good for her.

Of course, getting old is not always fun. What age is?

I never thought being a teenager was much fun. My twenties were fraught with self-doubt and wrong turns and seeking my path in life. My thirties and forties were exciting and stressful and busy, busy with more responsibility at work. My fifties saw the first wrinkles and a second onslaught of self-doubt. Seriously, even when I was young, and slimmer, and better looking, and successful at work … life was not perfect.

But I must say, it’s pretty perfect now. Despite the wrinkles, and the hip and back issues, and the worry about time slipping away. I’m okay with being sixty-seven.

In fact, as this article explains, studies show that old people have fewer mental health problems, are “among the happiest of any age,” and they have the “most stable outlook of all adults.”

And I just want to add that I’m very aware that I live in a country with universal health care and pretty stable pension incomes for seniors. And the fact remains that many, many seniors in the world live in poverty with little income, no stable pension, and not enough health care. So there’s that. One would be right to fear getting old if it meant certain poverty.

Okay. I am all over the map here, folks. I told you I would be. That’s just the state of mind I’m in. February zoomies and all that. But before I leave you today, I do want to explain the title of this post.

You see after I read Alyson Walsh’s blog post, I read this article by Martha Gill in The Guardian. And I had to laugh at what she said about ageism. That it is a “sort of mass delusion on the part of the young. That they will never get old. Never wrinkle, if they can help it. ‘One day that will be us struggling with newfangled technology,’ the young say, as a joke, not really thinking it will be. ‘I’ll need that Zimmer frame one day,’ they say, thinking they won’t.”

And as a result, I had an image in my head of an old woman with a Zimmer frame, or a walker as we say here in Canada. An old woman that I saw in Montreal years ago. My friend and I were in Montreal for a shopping weekend, and as we sat on a terrace enjoying a coffee in the late Saturday afternoon sunshine, we saw an elderly lady approach us. She made her way down the sidewalk, in her pink Chanel suit, and her high heels, a small handbag with a chain-strap on her wrist, deftly steering her walker around the tables of the restaurant, and disappearing around the corner of the street.

We were silent. And then we both laughed, and allowed that we hoped that would be us in forty, or maybe fifty, years. Steering our walker, and clicking along in our high heels and our Chanel suit. Not that I wear high heels much anymore, or Chanel suits ever. But you get the idea. Aging fearlessly and fashionably.

Now it’s finally your turn to weigh in, my friends. I have been babbling long enough. We all have different challenges, different temperaments, different needs and priorities. We should all feel free to age our own way. So, what say you? Any words of wisdom to share with us? Funny stories about when you were young and couldn’t wait to be older? Any high heels and zimmer frame anecdotes to share? Or anything, really. We’re ready to listen.

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45 thoughts on “High Heels and a Zimmer Frame”

  1. Chère Sue ,j’attends le dimanche matin avec impatience pour avoir le bonheur de lire ce qu’en France,nous appellerions ” votre billet d’humeur ”.
    Le thème du jour me touche ….j’ai 73 ans .
    MOI , je suis si vieille ?
    A votre âge , j’ai jeté ma vertu pardessus les moulins ,fait ma valise , abandonné un mari toxique et refait ma vie avec un homme gentil et prévenant .
    Il n’y a pas d’âge pour le bonheur .
    Je me sens légère et je crois que je vis mes meilleures années .
    Je suis qui je suis .
    Je rénove ma maison mise a mal par un mari atteint de démence sénile et d’incontinence.
    Je remets en état mon merveilleux jardin dont il ne reste que des rosiers rabougris par cinq ans d’absence .
    Ma maison dont je reprends possession avec amour , dont chaque pierre a une histoire .
    Je n’ai plus d’âge .
    Je ne me sens pas vieille .
    Je porte des talons hauts tout le temps et des vêtements intemporels . Je renouvelle ma garde robe .
    J’ai l’impression d’avoir la vie devant moi …et ma mort .Cela donne de la valeur ,du poids et du charme a ce que je vis aujourd’hui.
    Je n’ai rien perdu de ma lucidité ni de mon autodérision .
    Et comme le dirait le philosophe André Comte Sponville,je suis heureuse…… désespérément.

  2. You’ve been rummaging around in my head, haven’t you? Inside my poor confused brain which, like yours, has been racing about and pondering time and age and death…perhaps it really is down to the time of year. Up till recently I felt quite fine about getting older and then some health issues suddenly emerged and now I feel rather different, even though they are treatable. Still, the winter is on the way out and brighter mornings are here, I can imagine wearing summer clothes and sitting in the sunshine…perhaps not in high heels but definitely not in shoes like cornish pasties either. On we go.

    1. I hope your health issues are resolved soon, Annie. And that winter is indeed in its way out. At least for you. Parts of eastern Canada where my family live are literally buried in snow. My sister keeps taking photos as the snow gradually obliterates the view out her back door. P.S. Shoes like Cornish pasties made me laugh. And think of a recent fashion show I saw on-line. Ha.

  3. Oh lordy…no sooner had I posted the comment above than I clicked on another site and the first thing that came up was an ad for Saga cruises.
    Doomed.

  4. Well I love it when you ramble around the subject like this – A discussion on aging that includes zooming cats ! At 76 I look back on my teens & twenties as the luckiest time ever . The adults were stepping back & youth was taking over . We had our own fashion , foreign food had arrived on our table , the caring NHS started with us & the Beatles ruled the world . It was bound to go downhill really 😉 But seriously , we were ageist too . I remember Dylan’s ‘Times Are A Changing ‘ telling the oldies to ‘ get out of the new world if they couldn’t lend a hand ‘ . My mum rolled her eyes at that but I loved it . I’m not saying I’d like to have stayed that age forever as my tastes & attitudes have changed & I like to think I have gained a little depth & wisdom . I love the freedom of my age now & the fact that I do not have to work . I left my job at 49 & worked voluntarily at my local animal sanctuary for 20 years – far more rewarding . I realise I have been fortunate with a good husband in secure employment . Many are not so fortunate . So when nasties crop up as they increasingly do these days , I keep trying to do the right things for my body & count my blessings .
    I saw that Guardian article at the time & , as usual with the Guardian, the comments are even more interesting than the article .

    1. I think the late sixties to mid seventies was a wonderful time. I look back at the fashions we wore and realize they were iconic. And never actually went away. It’s as if I have not stopped wearing jeans since we were allowed to wear them to school in 1971. Gad…that’s fifty years of searching for jeans that fit properly. Ha.
      P.S. I can imagine the animal sanctuary was the perfect job for you. I saw a clip of a video with a little girl or six or seven explaining to her mum that she wouldn’t eat animals. She didn’t think that they liked to be cooked. It reminded me of you.

  5. I find FOGO so disturbing. A wife of my husband’s friend, in her 30’s, who is usually so intelligent, level-headed and broad-minded, told my husband her biggest fear is getting grey hair. This was in response to me growing out my natural hair. The brainwash is deep and wide spread.

    1. I find it disturbing too, Lise. That’s part of what Alyson discussed in her post. About how younger and younger women and even girls are pursuing anti-aging cures. Brainwash, indeed.

  6. This may be the best/my favorite of many enjoyable and relevant blogs from your keyboard to my mind. I’ll be 84 next month and, it may have taken me a big longer to accept myself as I am RIGHT NOW. I had more years of all the aging messages via women’s magazines and television and the the internet onslaught. This was a lovely read to go with my morning coffee before church. When I’m back home, I plan to go to your references. Thank you for always hitting the nail on the head/letting us know that we are beautiful just the way we are. Best Blessings.

    1. Hi Jan, you echoed my sentiments on Sue’s blog. Definitely, my favourite blog as it brought back so many memories of my days in my late teens! I decided at tge tender age of 17 to broaden my horizons and set off for Paris for a year. What a year I had…it’s where I learnt about how to dress the French way…how to cook the French way and most importantly, how to speak French with a Parisian accent! Wow, it was a year of finding my true identity! I’m reading a book by Carol Drinkwater…’House on the edge of the cliff’ set in France and it too brings back memories of when I was a petite Irish Girl looking to find herself and at what the big world had to offer.

  7. Recently I read a newsprint about a 75 year old woman who had a single vehicle accident which she survived. I remember my initial thought was that this poor old soul was so fortunate to be ok. I will turn 78 in less than a week and I don’t feel at all like a poor old soul.
    This whole aging process is so very unique to each of us. Today, it’s a crazy ensemble of little things that keep me motivated and always moving forward. Small craft projects, a new novel, fresh makeup ideas, a new healthy recipe or a long overdue note to a friend all keep me busy and thinking. Many of our February days have been overcast and foggy. I can received an order for pineapple tomato seeds and a new grow lamp. I love a bit of fun or silly every day too!

    1. Little treats to look forward to is also my recipe for getting through winter…a new book, new recipe, new project… whatever it takes. Hubby loves to receive his seeds in the mail. Although receiving them just makes him impatient. As long as there’s snow to ski on he’s happy. He would like to have perfect snow right up to the day before spring… skiing one day gardening the next. Ha.

  8. My “fear of aging” is about the likelihood of getting dementia. My mother started showing signs of her mental decline around seventy years of age. Like you, I am sixty seven and I feel in a very visceral way that my biological clock is ticking. I exercise, take vitamins, try to keep my brain active…all the things one is recommended to do…but I think my mom did all the “right things” too. I hope for the best, try not to dwell on the worst case scenario but the fear is there. All life ends, I understand and accept the reality of death. It is the slow, lingering, drawn out, loss of my brain function and what it will mean for my husband and children that shapes my fear. Hope for being spared, hope for a “cure”, hope for my children’s future ….hope is still there.

    1. Susan, I can identify very closely with this. I have seen first-hand the cruelty of dementia as I help to care for my 94-year-old mother. I fear succumbing to it myself, and am heavy-hearted about the toll it would take on my children and my husband if I did. Like you, I try to do the “right things” and not to spend too much time worrying about something that may never happen.

      It puts things in perspective … my grey hair is a non-issue! :o)

    2. I feel the same about arthritis, Susan. My mum had it everywhere eventually, and she fought as hard as she could to stay mobile, but was eventually defeated. The spectre of dementia must be dreadful, though.

  9. I’m with your Mum on this , Sue, at 74 I feel that I am “me ” and my age, while not totally irrelevant, obviously, isn’t of too much concern. As long as I feel strong and healthy hopefully it will stay this way. I do find myself fearful for the future with some of the new innovations I’m not sure are where we should be going, AI for one.
    I wonder how the young will be like when they get to their 60’s and beyond.Will the movement towards the positivity of ageing continue, or will it it be all bionic bodies, forever perfect faces, with no -one looking old. It will probably be possible to achieve that without looking freakish, but wouldn’t it be weird ! I’m glad I won’t be around to see it !
    I do fear getting dementia, we are living much longer, but that’s not such a positive thing if we don’t have quality of life.

    1. I know, eh? Body positivity or the move to be bionic…it could go either way. I saw an old clip of Joan Rivers a few days ago. At 77 her face looked so pulled and puffed. I don’t understand that level of need to look young. When, in fact, you don’t actually look young. Just a sort of sad caricature of a young person.

  10. So far, not very much FOGO in my little corner of the world. I come from long-lived stock (3 of my grandparents lived into their fairly healthy early-to-mid 90s), and I am reasonably healthy at 66. I do exercise, and eat pretty well, and do crosswords and the like. Are there things I need to do better? Of course (looking at you, strength training) but I’m approaching this year with the determination to add those missing elements. Looks-wise, I still dye my hair, and I use both a daily retinol and a sunscreen, so that’s handled. 🙂 Most of all, I continue to approach my daily life with a sense of wonder and gratitude, which is probably the best “anti-aging” formula of them all.

  11. I’ve never felt FOGO (only in my fifties so far) and wasn’t aware that this was trending anywhere. I have normal concerns I think about getting old and losing loved ones, losing my mobility or independence, my wits. On the other side I already feel much calmer, happier, more…me than I did when I was younger.

    I’ve had great older role models. My mom was a classically beautiful woman when she was young (men stopping us on the street saying stupid things like “You must be sisters,” which I thought was disgusting when I was a teen). She aged gracefully – never bothered to colour her hair or fuss about getting older. I wish that at 77 she’d do fewer stupid things like climbing on roofs (unfortunately I inherited her rather dangerous “can do” attitude and impulsiveness), but I wouldn’t change her outlook. Likewise my grandmothers were old in appearance but fully engaged in life, with many active and creative pursuits. My grandfather was trading stocks on his computer at 92 and still debating via email with former academic colleagues. I genuinely hated being attractive at times in my 20s and 30s because I received so much unwanted attention (when I simply wanted to be understood and seen as the capable woman I was). I feel more valued than ever in my work, where knowledge and experience count, and can think of many senior colleagues who have retired within the last twenty years who were respected similarly (men and women, both). Ageism exists for sure in regards to beauty specifically and in some parts of the labour market when people are let go and have trouble finding work in their fields at advanced ages – definitely. On the other hand, there are positive signals in some sectors that older workers are being picked up because firms know they will stick around and be reliable (versus some younger workers where the turnover will be much much higher), but this requires nuance. I suspect that much of the tension between younger and older generations is really about the wealth divide, and of course it’s about the ‘in your face” beauty standards of social media that have warped a generation used to taking filtered, posed selfies. Anyway, curious to read the comments.

    1. Although I retired at 56, I never ever felt ageism at work. I always felt that I was considered the wise, but fun, elder. Hopefully that isn’t just a figment of my imagination. Ha. I think the best cure for ageism is to ignore it or to pick people up on their pronouncements. My mum and I were shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond one day when she was close to ninety, had a walker, etc etc. She ordered something to be delivered to the store and the salesperson looked at me and asked if I had an email address they could use to notify us that it had arrived. I said nothing, and Mum replied in the tone I knew so well from when I was a teenager… her “don’t mess with me, kid” tone…that she had an email address. After all it was she who was doing the ordering. The salesperson looked so flustered I felt sorry for her.

      1. I am in my sixty ninth year and when asked my age I sometimes have to stop and think..I actually told someone that I was 65 a few weeks ago! I guess my brain stopped at that age LOL What I do know for sure is that there are no guarantees. Because parents lived well into their nineties does not necessarily bode the same for us. My parents passed at 93 and 98 but I lost my oldest brother to brain cancer at 64.
        I believe that ageing is a state of mind as much as a state of body. My 98 yr old father held on to positivity like a magic charm, he revelled in life! Christening his red walker his Ferrari!! Unfortunately he was called home in November but was positive until the end. I worked in geriatric healthcare for many years and honestly the older women regardless of financial status were positive and future oriented, they even found the good in hospital food!! “No complaints here, I didn’t have to cook it”:) The older men were very different, many were morose, and bitter. No wonder my Dad was such a fan favourite at his retirement home.
        So keep up the social interactions, the good nutrition, exercise and get out side. . Sue your privilege is showing though..I belong to a retired Canadians FB group and the number of folks living on only CPPand OAS with no RRSP or other savings is mind boggling it’s not enough to live on. Very few Canadians collect the CPP max nor do they all enjoy DB pensions as you and I do. Many have no choice but to work into their seventies, there are a lot of Canadian seniors who struggle to make ends meet. Universal health care is great but it’s the drugs, physio, homecare etc that costs and not seniors can afford supplemental health insurance.

        1. I’m happy that both your parents remained so healthy and positive into their nineties. You’ve definitely got good genes working for you. I didn’t mean to sound unaware that I am privileged. I know I am. I am lucky to have worked in a profession where I have a stable pension. My parents and most of my extended family were not so lucky as I am. My parents lived on their CPP and OAS. So I’m well aware how many people who don’t have professional pensions struggle. However despite New Brunswick being a “have not” province, due to her small income, my mum qualified for many provincial government services which helped her maintain life in her own home, including a social worker who checked on her regularly, physio, homecare, and regular visits from an OT and a nurse if needed. I’m not sure what additional services (besides drugs) we provide for seniors here in Ontario, though. I tried to manage Mum’s affairs from here and was grateful for these people all the time but especially during the pandemic when I could call the government office in Fredericton and ask for help. They’d cheerfully make time to drive to Mum’s and check she was not exaggerating her situation to me by claiming everything was okay, and even call me back to report. During lock-down that was a godsend.

  12. “Aging fearlessly and fashionably.” I love that! It should be a title, I think. It certainly describes how I want to live whatever time I have left. If you haven’t already, I recommend reading Breaking the Age Code by Dr. Becca Levy, one of the world’s leading experts on aging and longevity. It’s a fascinating read about the impact of negative age beliefs as well as a call to stand up against ageism and its negative effects.

    And, by the way, I just know that I would have loved your Mum!

  13. I am 78 years old and feel good , for the most part healthy, able to do all the activities I like to do. So I am amused when grocery clerks ask if I need help to put the bags of food in my car, or someone speaks to me like I am a child, or tells me how good I look for my age. I often think of my grandfather, who when asked by my father how it feels to be 90, said that in his head he felt like he was the same person as he was in his 20s. He lived with us for many years and used to let me beat him at checkers, which made me feel very smart until I grew up and realized the truth. He is still one of my role models.

    1. My mum used to say the same. That she always felt the same person as she was when she was young . Maybe even better because she didn’t have the responsibilities she had when she was a single parent of four.

  14. Dear Sue, Your blog is always spot on. Yes I worry, getting old is not easy with 14+ years of menopause symptoms that just won’t quit, arthritis and etc, etc. But I am happy to be 67…my prayer is 29 more years, please God. My worry is my Mother will out live me and my daughters left with the never ending paperwork and worry of paying the care home. My Mother is 92, God love her, but the Alzheimers has forced the family to make hard decisions. The home does a good job of her care, but it’s very pricey and now we are robbing Peter to pay Paul. So my aging needs to slow down so I can help care for my Mom and my granddaughters. My eldest called me today to say there wasn’t enough of her to go around this week…thank you God I can still step in and help. I tell my girls, use me while you can. On another note, I don’t mind being treated like a old lady if it means politeness.

  15. Sorry that my comment is so long, Sue, but the timing of this post really brought up some poignant musings for me. My siblings and I are “caring” for our 96 year old mother who just underwent a hip replacement surgery under the recommendation of her attentive doctor. Last November, the arthritis in her hip finally took her off of driving (I cring to share that) to her water aerobics classes and senior lunches. After much testing, her doctor and the surgeon felt that Mom had more to gain from the surgery. She came through the surgery with flying colors and is now in rehabilitation. The four of us offspring are very thankful. And…we are learning some lessons that, hopefully, we will remember regarding our own aging and it’s effects on our own children.
    One of our observations is how Mom declined when she lost mobility and social interaction. We see the extreme value of her engagement in life.
    Another is how her possessions have overtaken her home. We dare not make any sudden changes in that area but it took us three days to carefully clear some of the clutter, hire a cleaning team for her home, and then replace the clutter. Yes, we took photos to carefully replace all. Well…most of the “all”. Hoping her sharp mind will not notice our careful editing.
    We owe her much. She was a hard-working, single mom of four who sometimes worked two jobs to make ends meet. It wasn’t perfect but her work kept us on our feet and a strong beginning for our own lives.
    Thanks for this space to put my feelings into words…Charlene

    1. Your mum must be a force, Charlene. My mum was similar. Although I wish I had waded into her health care sooner and pushed for her to have knee replacements. I think she would have had a better last few years if she’d been more mobile. Best wishes for your mum’s recovery. Hope she’s back at her fitness classes soon.

  16. Suz from Vancouver

    Thanks for another interesting post. I recently started reading about “subjective age”. A fascinating subject.
    How old would you be if you didn’t know your actual age?”
    Or How old do you feel?

    BBC Article “The age you feel means more than your actual birthdate”

    I think recognizing limits and risks is important for all age groups. For me, being a retired senior, means having more time and historical knowledge to reflect on that. Self reflection and general reflection, both important.
    Easy for me, at age 66, because my life is very good. That birth lottery comes into play once again!

    I hope for contentment now and in any of my future ages.
    Suz from Vancouver

  17. Interesting post and obviously resonant with many readers. I have to go away and think a bit more about this — much that I agree with, but also much that I’ve been thinking and feeling that may or not conflict with what you’re saying here. Probably much depends on definitions and context, as is so often the case.

    1. Context is so important isn’t it? I mean, whether or not we associate aging with infirmity. Or, like other commenters have mentioned, with dementia. So much depends on experiences of family members and our own experience with ageism. Plus how financially secure we are. That to me is a huge one. Growing old in poverty is not to be desired and yet so many face that. I’m glad that my mum and my stepfather had the land and no worries about housing for they lived on their pensions and had no savings. That is until Mum started saving her “supplement” which is ironically the bit extra that the government gives seniors who live below the poverty line.

  18. Late to the party this week, perhaps because I’ve been partying a bit to celebrate turning 70 in late January. I’m more peaceful about 70 than I was about 60 – not sure why, but I’m grateful for it. I hate being invisible in public, though there are rare instances of kindnesses and consideration, which I acknowledge with as much grace as I can muster. Always one to swim against the stream, I’ve had some mental health issues in the last few years, which have settled at the moment. And there are the aches and pains…But ageing is a hell of a lot better than the alternative!

    I love the photo of you and your siblings at your mum’s wedding. You all look quite different but the photo shows a lot of love and connection. The stories of your mum and her doctor and the Chanel wearing women are gold. You write so beautifully and with so much compassion. Let the young enjoy their feelings of immortality. Age will catch up with them soon enough, just like it has for us.

  19. I’m pre-ordering the book by Lynn Salter – How to be Old. She of the “Accidental Icon” fame. She is very thoughtful and analytical. This will not be your usual self-help book. I have followed her blog for a number of years and it always gives me something to think about

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