Is there a lighter side to becoming old?

Although it’s true that I’ve been young and I’ve been old, and young is better, there are some compensations. Not a lot. But we all know that growing old is much better than the alternative.

 GOLDEN AGE? (photo credit: Christian Brown/Unsplash)
GOLDEN AGE?
(photo credit: Christian Brown/Unsplash)

I always liked the joke about the doctor who told his elderly patient that he had two bad pieces of news for him.

“What’s the first?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Jones, but your memory is so bad that I’m afraid you are really senile.”

“What else?”

“You have diabetes.”

“Oh well, as long as I’m not senile!”

 WHEN YOU stoop to tie your shoes, you wonder if maybe there’s something else you can do while you’re down there.  (credit: Joshua Rodriguez/Unsplash) WHEN YOU stoop to tie your shoes, you wonder if maybe there’s something else you can do while you’re down there. (credit: Joshua Rodriguez/Unsplash)

Of course, old age, with its memory loss, happens to women, too. 

Probably the reason nature doesn’t give us babies after 50 is that we’d be liable to put them down somewhere and forget where we put them.

There is nothing good about getting older

Whoever coined that cute phrase “golden ager” didn’t know what he was talking about, unless he was referring to the golden handshake from the boss when he wants you to retire and quit your job; or the once-mandatory gold watch that is so old-fashioned it belongs in a museum.

No, there’s nothing golden about being a senior citizen. You can lose your teeth, as well as your memory, be prey to all kinds of aches and pains – in fact, when you stoop to tie your shoes, you wonder if maybe there’s something else you can do while you’re down there. You visit your doctor more often than your best friend. In fact, if you fail to turn up at the physician’s office on your weekly visit, the nurse asks: “We were worried about you. You didn’t come on Wednesday – were you sick?”

Being able to laugh at yourself is the best remedy – it’s like jogging on the inside. I find myself going into a room to retrieve some object, and of course when I get there, I totally forget what it is I’m looking for. 

Sometimes my mind not only wanders – it leaves completely!

I have this little trick when I meet someone whose name I’ve forgotten:

“Now you are...?”

“Mary.”

“Oh, of course I know you’re Mary. It’s your second name I’ve forgotten.” Or vice versa. It works fine unless Mary happens to be your daughter!

I hate the platitudes that people think you need to hear as you grow older. All those tired old clichés like “It’s always darkest just before the dawn.” The truth is that it’s always darkest just before things go pitch black. And the changes in your appearance are depressing. Mind you, they don’t make mirrors like they did in the old days.

Misplacing things

Mislaying things is another trial of old age. You lose your glasses at least three times a day, and then you need your glasses to be able to find them. Keys, I am convinced, get borrowed by the fifth dimension or someone from the X-Files. 

Sometimes they return them; often they don’t. When you do find your car keys (which some stupid person put in your purse, of all places), you drive happily to the shopping mall. 

The next problem is that when you come out, you can’t remember where you parked the car.

Making children feel guilty

One of the things we tend to do when we get older is to make our children feel guilty. Like the son who called his mother:

“Hi, Ma. How are you?”

“Not so good. I haven’t eaten for 27 days.”

“Good heavens! That’s terrible. Why not?”

“I didn’t want to have my mouth full of food if you should happen to call me.”

Although it’s true that I’ve been young and I’ve been old, and young is better, there are some compensations. Not a lot. But we all know that growing old is much better than the alternative. And the nice thing about wrinkles is that they don’t hurt! 

The writer is the author of 14 books. Her latest novel is Searching for Sarah. [email protected]