Crow Print by Marvin Oliver

It’s a shame that just when you get comfortable being youngish, you suddenly find yourself being classified as “elderly”. You see strangers being referred to as elderly when in their 70’s. I suppose we are lucky that the longest period of our lives is called middle age. But the middle of what?

What makes us “old”? Since Dr. A, at the age of 91, is often seen out and about, either walking Charlie or sweeping leaves, he is often offered help; either to get up if he is pulling a weed, or loading a bag of compost into the car. Shaking his head, he wonders if they think he is old. I always use the line uttered by Hermine Gingold to Maurice Chevalier “Oh no, not you.”

The question is not so much how we look. Obviously the years take their toll in ways we would rather not think about. The story inside a beat-up second hand book is just as good as when the book was new. I a heard young man the age of forty something complain that he was getting “old”.

The First Wednesday group met last week and celebrated two more 90th birthdays. We were joined this time by two daughters, one granddaughter, and a little great-grandson. Generations in action. I began paying more attention to the questions my friends asked. One asked me if any of Dr. A’s old friends were left.The answer has been “no” for many years. Another asked if I were still cooking. The answer is “yes”, she was not. Another asked if my hearing was still good. She had just got hearing aids, and doesn’t like them. I have never heard of anyone who loved wearing them. They fall into the same category as false teeth; an unavoidable necessity.

Do all these things make us old? No, they are the exterior signs of lives well spent. If we are given the gift of age, it behooves us to do the best we can to get on with it. Dwelling on what we have lost is boring and non-productive.

Having said that, I visited the eye doctor again yesterday for a new glasses prescription. Something glamorous and sexy and makes me look 65 again would be nice. Before this can be achieved, you review the same old tests everyone takes to determine how much you can actually see. The result was neither more nor less than I expected, since my eyesight has been failing regrettably faster than I thought.

On the last visit, they showed me a few magnifying devices said to help failing eyesight. Yesterday there were a whole shelf full of lighted ones, a couple to wear on your head, though I couldn’t find the buttons meant to work like binoculars. Strange looking things which would scare the dog into thinking you came down from an unknown planet.

I have found that some things, like youth, cannot be recaptured; sight being one of them. We need to go with the flow as long as the river runs.

Back to my original question, “What makes us old?” It isn’t the loss of our looks, or the loss of our capabilities. It’s the loss of hope. The loss of interest in new things. The loss of someone or something to care about, or who cares for us. All those things are at the core of Life. If we lose them, yes, we are old, and it isn’t easy being old.
As a good friend called over his shoulder the other day while leaving the house, “Old age sucks!”

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

18 thoughts on “IT ISN’T EASY BEING OLD”

  1. Good one, Kayti,
    When both hearing and sight starts to dwindle one has to become more resourceful. In my own case of bad hearing, it might involve some swift guessing, and depending on facial responses of the talker, change our answer in whatever is being talked about. This can result is some hilarious banter.
    As for diminishing sight, it is a bummer. But, as you say. Keep interests, friends and humour.

    Years ago when in my young fifties, I came close to fisticuffs with an irate young man who sneaked his car in a parking space that an elderly man was trying to get into. I told him off. He put his fists up to teach me a lesson, but his girlfriend stopped him and said; ” Don’t hit him, he is just an old man.”


    1. Keeping a sense of humor is important. I took the title of this post from Norman Lear, who was the creator of a slew of TV sitcoms. He is 96 and still going strong. I find the things people do and say as they age are interesting. The desire to hurry and get on with it becomes stronger whether they know it or not. I see this in my husband, but not particularly in myself. Aging is a gift thought if, as you say, we are philosophical.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Val! I remember how my eyes behaved with cataracts. Not fun to look through a smeared windshield. The surgery was very good and easy and took away the smeary windshield. Nothing to worry about, and yes, everyone seems to need it.
        I’m sorry your health has not been good. The book “I’m Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired” hit the nail on the head when I realized there are many of us out there. An active life helps, as much as possible. I have limited mobility since my accident, and now my eyesight is going, but I find if I concentrate on the things I can still do it helps. You are probably right to wait for cataraact surgery as long as it doesn’t limit you. Good luck.


  2. I have the early beginnings of cataracts and, three years ago, was told I’d start noticing them in about five years. I’m noticing them now… it’s beginning to be like looking through a greasy window. That’s not great for the work I do but I’m not about to have an operation on my eyes this early, so I plod along. When I can’t see enough to work, I shall have the op. But this is – as my optician says – a sign of old age. Everyone (apparently) gets cataracts. Which means that before the age of eye surgery for them, everyone eventually went blind or nearly blind. That’s the ange of ‘old age’ that I can’t cope with and more to the point won’t cope with as I just refuse to accept it. I also get the usual aches and pains that come with age but, as I’ve had a lifetime of bad health, I just battle through those too. I suppose what I’m saying is that it’s a matter of what and you’ve been conditioned to be, to feel, to believe, to behave through your life as to how you’ll react to getting old or getting older.

    As for the 40 something, I felt old when I was in my twenties and, I think, I was probably mentally older then than I am now, because I needed a certain adjustment then that has arrived now!


  3. I think Marvin Oliver must surely be related to Emmett Oliver. I went to Marvin’s site, and his work is magnificent.

    Some time ago — maybe years, now that I think about it — I left this comment on someone’s blog. When I re-read it, I thought, “I need to hang on to that.” So I copied it and tucked it in my files, where I read it now and then. It certainly applies to the subject at hand, and it has a tone I’ve often heard from the “old folks.” I think you might enjoy it.

    “I started edging toward these conclusions this past year, as I passed sixty-nine, had cataract surgery/lens implants, and realized I don’t have any really good friends left who can go out for a hike.

    I’m down to about twenty years now, give or take, and getting in shape, preserving the good health I have, and not wasting time on the stupid, the boring, or the irrelevant is right up there on top of my list. If I manage to avoid stupid, boring, and irrelevant, I’ll have plenty of time for what’s important.”

    Ain’t it the truth?


    1. High Five! It really is a state of mind. I’ve known young people who are stupid, boring and irrelevant in my teaching years. Such a time waster.

      You are correct in assuming that Marvin Oliver is Emmett and Georgia’s son. I’ve known him since he was a child. I laugh to think I was his first art teacher when he appeared in my classroom. It only took a week or so for him to realize I wasn’t teaching what he needed to learn. (grin) He is an amazing artist and a really nice guy. He is married to Brigete Ellis from Ketchican, and whose grandfather started Alaska Airlines. She is not an artist, but promotes his work. He is a professor at the University of Washington and has a gallery in Ketchican Alaska where they have a home, so he moves comfortably between Seattle and Ketchican. His sister is Marylin Bard, whom I wrote about for the Paddle to Seattle posts.


  4. I’m going to remember your words about loss… of hope, interest, and people to care about. Like you I’m interested in the things older people say, our attitudes and thoughts. Many assume that what they think, everyone thinks. But it’s not so, fortunately.


    1. We don’t change much as we grow older; we become “m.ore so” .Wise words from a wise lady many years ago. I’ve been studying people ever since, and I find that whatever we are as a young person becomes more accentuated with age. What may nave been charming irresponsibility in a young person, becomes annoying in later life. The reverse is also true. I once admired a dear old friend and confessed to my husband that I would like to be like her. His answer was, I should begin right then!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think your friend was right, although we can certainly tweak our basic nature. But you’d have mixed feelings about your husband’s comment!


  5. I copied this essay to my files and took the liberty of adding bold Italics to the line about going with the flow…then ran off copies for my friends…Love, love, love your posts. They are always relevant and good-hearted! I consider you a friend I haven’t met yet.


  6. Carol Ann,
    Meeting Kayti is akin to receiving a bouquet of begonias just when you thought no one cared about you. She is magic. The most amazing aspect of Kayti, among many, is that she is always so interested in YOU, in the other person. Complaining about physical loss or about boring people (and God knows Kayti and I know a few…) is not part of her DNA. She is one of a kind.


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