Although now at 77 I do look ‘old’, the folds on my face, my gait, and my white hair, I did not at the age of 60 when I retired. It is the white hair that have signalled me as an old woman and because of this I have noticed ageist behaviour towards me even before I retired at 60. Of course my interest in the cinema and my feminism confirmed my personal feelings.
I quote from Time Goes By Ronni Bennett’s blog. A blog I follow religiously because it makes me feel understood in my ageing journey.
“Earlier this week, long-time TGB reader Elizabeth left, in part, this comment:”The culture we live in insists that ‘living to the fullest’ means an incessant pursuit of experiences. One MUST travel in retirement. One MUST attend cultural events. In some circles, one MUST volunteer or be politically active.“The idea of a bucket list is another piece of that pressure to do, do, do. After a lifetime of working and raising a family, I am able to live fully the way I want to…“My paternal grandmother once commented on how annoying she found the recreational staff at her senior residence. They were so worried that she didn’t participate in the (to Grandma) condescending song fests and games. She kept saying that she was finally able to do exactly what she wanted.”Elizabeth is correct. The only old people to whom American culture pays even a small amount of respect are the ones who act like younger adults, 40-year- for example. …………………………………………………………
Until you’re old, you probably have no idea how chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and dozens of others hamper one’s ability to do the things that were easy at age 40.
And that doesn’t include plain old tiredness, the fatigue that comes along just because you are old now and your body slows down. People sometimes say it’s too bad there isn’t an instruction book for getting old.
I think it’s a good thing NOT to have that book, not to have an arbitrary “expert” telling us what we should be doing. Remember, there is no right way to grow old. Do it your way and do it proudly.”
My problem is whether I mention to my family and friends how I feel in my body. It can become boringly repetitive and very unlikely to stimulate sympathy. I find that only a very good friend of the same age is likely to empathise or my wonderful yoga teacher who always enquires before a session : how do you feel in your body?
It was a lovely little bungalow in the middle of a very quiet street. Oh yes I could live here away from London’s busy life. The big trees – elm and oak – at the bottom of the garden, the two plum trees and a sea of white London Pride next to the patio.
But one day a fire destroyed the kitchen and nothing was the same anymore. The elm was attacked by Dutch elm disease, the plum trees were culled. The Owl did not woo anymore and there was no more noisy coupling of the hedgehogs at night. The door to the garden would not open.
The Wembley Arch, high-rise luxury flats, fast food shops and supermarkets outlets have replaced the Twin Towers, the quiet streets, the tea rooms, the fragrant bakery.
Indoors the knives were becoming blunt, the window panes always cloudy, the sun obscured by next door’s extension and to top it all there is some subsidence in the building. An unending destroying cycle of repairs and attempts at renewals.
But this summer has been sunny, the newly planted raised bed has been prolific. The self rooted magnolia flowered early, mediterranean jasmin and herbs delight my senses. A black cat stands watch against the visiting rat.
I do not anymore count the losses but contemplate the oak tree .
By a strange coincidence two events conspired to make me think of my past in a bizarre type of Life Review.
I had been studying Kore-eda’s (1998) film for a couple of weeks when my daughter told me that her last assignment of her course was to write about My Mother and My Father.
I knew she enjoyed this writing course. She wanted to tell me that her teacher thought that her two pieces were very good writing.
I ask her tentatively if I could read them and she agreed with some trepidation.
Our relationship in her teens and into her middle age had been difficult, extremely difficult but we both matured into a comfortable loving in spite of our differences.
It was wonderful to read her pieces. She did not talk about us now but how she saw us during her 57 years of life. Her father found what she called the decades of war very painful. I found it less so and certainly less than living it.
She is 57. My daughter is old. Difficult to comprehend.