My very dear 96-year-old mother who took off a decade or so ago for the sunny South and now resides (on her own and in her own home) in an adult Florida community, recently said this to me: “I’ve never minded whatever age I am. I just enjoy it all.” Aging has never been something I looked forward to, but I’ve found that talking with an older person (if you can still FIND an older person) makes the process much less scary.
My wife and retired just a year ago, and, so far, have not regretted the decision to do so. We haven’t yet experienced the ‘downside’ of it, and I don’t think we ever will. Retirement actually made dealing with Covid-19 a bit easier for us because for the last half of 2019 we weren’t really doing much anyway. Ho Hum. My personal perspective: “Oh, we can’t get near a lot of other people? Dang!” (I didn’t want to do that anyway.)
We live in what our Green Mountain state refers to as a city, but if you’re not a Vermonter our city might be passed by as a bump in the road, and that’s fine with retired old me. Just today I heard of a town up here by the name of Lewis, (don’t fact check me) that is home to exactly one resident. Yup. Only one. Even here that’s a small town.
Anyway, up here it’s easy to sort of blend into the scenery: the green trees, the cornfields, the wooded paths, especially if you’re retired, I think. I saw a scene on a TV show recently where an older character’s line was that “If you’re over 65 nobody even sees you.” I think that’s the way it is here. Nobody’s looking for you; nobody suspects you of anything, mostly because they probably think you’re not capable of anything.
That reminds me of the title of this column and the things I wanted to include in it, which I will now get back to, or into.
I wanted to discuss with you the rules that no longer apply to me, or, at least, the rules I no longer follow. So, here we go.
I have heard that the best thing about growing older is that no one expects you to do anything. This is a good one. Someone may ask to borrow a tool, a vehicle, or some money, but they don’t want your actual help. They’re probably afraid you’ll die on them. (Pretty cool if you think about it.)
Another thing is that no one says you must get out of bed and get ready for work anymore. In fact, if you have gray hair and just stop showing up for work, some people won’t notice; other people will be glad. This is not a bad thing. From my viewpoint, it’s all good.
I have also recently realized that it’s perfectly legal to drive the speed limit, and sometimes even less, especially if you’re older. If you try this, you will certainly hear a horn or two, and receive more than one wave that resembles half a peace sign, but who cares? Young people drive it like they stole it. I drive it like it’s paid for and I want it to last forever, which I do.
Another rule that has changed for me is that, even as a married man, I can openly talk with beautiful young women without being suspected of naughty behavior. (Heaven knows I have no energy for naughty behavior.) My wife knows I’m not going anywhere, and also that no beautiful young woman would want to go anywhere with me. This rule change is still very nice.
In fact, as inferred above, I have no reason to try to impress the opposite sex or anyone else. I knew this was the case and that life was over when I began getting senior discounts at restaurants without even asking for them. I hated that at first. Now I just take the money and run. No, I don’t run. I tried that once as a kid and didn’t enjoy it. I also no longer have to shave every day and have nearly forgotten how to tie a tie. I can exercise if I want to, and not if I don’t want to. No one notices either way.
Near the end of his life, may wife’s maternal grandfather said to me: “Georgie ol’ boy, when you’re almost 93 you ain’t 16 no more.” I could hardly argue with that. I also once heard a meaningful quote from the old and departed comedian George Burns. (If you know who George Burns was, you ain’t 16 no more either.) Mr. Burns once bragged: “I can do anything in my nineties that I could do when I was 18.” He then continued: “That just shows how pathetic I was at 18.”
As I sit here, on my way to ‘elderly,’ in our already elderly Vermont home, surrounded by the silence of a sunny Saturday afternoon and thinking of some of the perks of being “not 16 no more,” I’m reminded again of my mom’s advice, to not mind whatever age I am, and to just enjoy it all! She’s always been a very wise woman.