Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Confessions of a Vulnerable

“Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.”
                  Max Ehrmann

I’m one of the “at risk,” “vulnerables.” I don’t add “elderly.” It’s enough that word even exists as it evokes images of wizened, warty, bent-backed beings with white hair or no hair, and perhaps two remaining teeth. People only look like that in a Dickens novel. I’m also one of the people some want to sacrifice in order to rescue the economy. I do not comment on those individuals as that would be like trying to have a dialogue with fudge. The stereotype of women in my age group surrounded by doilies and teacups, little ‘ole ladies wearing little ‘ole lady dresses, the inevitable afghan circling their tiny shoulders doesn’t quite work for me. I’m wearing a hot pink top and tight jeans as I write this. Many in the media often refer to seniors so patronizingly, I consider getting the news by accessing a Ouija board. What is it about some young’uns that makes them relate to older folk as if we have the I.Q. of a tangerine?

In spite of the above, there are some very positive things about being older. The first and greatest advantage is that you can finally do what you always wanted to do - full time. If you are fortunate enough to have spent your life doing what you love, just be quiet (surrendering envy is one of the things I’m still working on). Whether it’s reading those forty-seven books you ordered from Amazon, gardening, learning a language, painting a room or a canvas, writing a memoir, getting involved in local politics, enjoying every play, opera, ballet, or concert in the history of the world, the choices are there.

Another remarkable gift of aging is the joy of forgiving those who were absolutely shitty to you because, you know what, it really doesn’t matter anymore. You can also, I add with a hint of caution, have wine and cookies for supper. Of course, a definite downside to seniorhood is that when you go to bed at night you can’t help wondering if you’ll wake up the following morning. When you do, the scrambled eggs taste so awfully good and your dog peeing on the brand new sofa (he’s a senior too) seems almost amusing. Almost.

My mother told me I “think too much.” A teacher I had said I was “too intellectual” – a singularly peculiar remark to make to a student. When a friend referred to me as “a giant brain,” I imagined aliens disembarking their spacecraft. They all had shockingly oversized heads. I was one of them! I assure you that I am not a giant brain. I could not define a scalene triangle if the Lord himself appeared and asked me to. My normal size brain loves reading giant souls like Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, and Dickens. I'm spending my retirement rereading books I love and finding new books to love.

I confess I’ve let go of some of “the things of youth” reluctantly, without an ounce of grace, and I’m holding on to others like a toddler with a teddy bear. I miss being pretty (I haven’t surrendered vanity). I didn’t even know I was pretty till I opened a photo album and saw this attractive young woman who used to be me. I knew I’d turned a corner when people started calling me "ma’am" and asking if I’d like the senior discount. And I miss planning for the future. At my age, I am the future.

I’m going to end this blog post now as I’m rather pleased with it. Oops, apparently, I haven’t relinquished pride yet either. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. One hopes.

Image:  © Volha Kusakina/


  1. At 67, I can relate to nearly all this, Barbara 🙄 A thoughtful and particularly well written post. Thanks...I feel better!

  2. Inge, Thanks so much for your comment. I appreciate it.